Daily News header

Into Great Silence (Die Grosze Stille) Film Review

by Kam Williams

Monastery Serves as Subject for Atmospheric Mood Piece


Who would ever think that you could make a movie about an order of self-effacing monks who've taken not only a vow of celibacy, but also of silence? Philip Groning, the director of Into Great Silence would, that's who. It was over 20 years ago when he first approached the Carthusians, an ascetic sect about shooting a documentary at the Grande Charteuse, a modest monastery nestled in amidst the majestic French Alps.

Finally, some 16 years later, Groning got his answer, a "Yes," though it was contingent on his complying with certain conditions. He would have to work without a crew, and film by natural light. He agreed, and moved into the monks' quarters, capturing every aspect of their lives for a year, from prayer and meditation and other religious rituals, to spiritual study, to the drudgery of everyday tasks, to cooking and gardening, to weekly walks around the picturesque grounds of the hermitage.

The upshot of the gifted director's efforts is Into Great Silence, an exquisite, mesmerizing mood piece which immerses the viewer in the humbling hush of monastic life. Deliberately-paced and clocking in at almost three hours, it features neither a soundtrack nor a voiceover to interfere with one's appreciation. Thus, this simple, if super-realistic, film offers its audience the ultimate experience in cinema verite'.


Groning focuses on just a few of the 30 or so abbots abiding at the Grande Charteuse, including a nameless blind elder,and a couple of novices, Etienne and Benjamin, the latter, a recent arrival from Africa. But the primitive setting and the quietness of the inhabitants enable ordinary natural sounds to take center stage, from the creaking of floorboards to the chopping of vegetables to the babble of a brook.

If the point of the picture is to challenge each viewer to steep oneself in the stillness while reflecting upon one's relation to God versus the trappings of technology and the rampant materialism of modern society, it must be considered an unqualified success. One couldn't hope to find a more potentially transformative meditation on the meaning of life in a movie theater.
Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated In French and Latin with subtitles.
Running time: 162 minutes
Studio: Zeitgeist Fims

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Wish I Was Here is the culmination of Zach's personal filmmaking at its best. As the movie's co-writer, director, star and producer, he was involved in nearly every aspect of the creative development.
A National Movie is now being cast by the A+ Agency, Rose Casting. To mark Independence Day, Dinesh D'Souza released the film version of his recent book America.
Movie reviewer Prairie Miller interviews Actress, Mandy Moore about Building Better Lives.
Prairie Miller talks to Patricia Arquette about her starring role in a Richard Linklater dramatic feature, contrasting it with the formulaic fluff of Hollywood.
A man with serious anger management issues gets fired for losing his temper on the job, and makes his way to Rittenhouse Square where things go from bad to worse.
But where Neeson was a retired CIA agent, Cage plays a reformed ex-con. And while the former was frantically searching for his missing daughter, the latter is looking for whoever fired a fatal bullet into the head of his daughter. As for the villain

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site