Nestled deep in the postcard-perfect French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is considered one of the world s most ascetic monasteries. In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to ma... more »ke a documentary about them. They said they would get back to him. Sixteen years later, they were ready. Gröning, sans crew or artificial lighting, lived in the monks quarters for six months filming their daily prayers, tasks, rituals and rare outdoor excursions. This transcendent, closely observed film seeks to embody a monastery, rather than simply depict one it has no score, no voiceover and no archival footage. What remains is stunningly elemental: time, space and light. One of the most mesmerizing and poetic chronicles of spirituality ever created, INTO GREAT SILENCE dissolves the border between screen and audience with a total immersion into the hush of monastic life. More meditation than documentary, it s a rare, transformative experience for all.
DISC ONE, THE FILM:
Breathtaking 16:9 anamorphic transfer, created from Hi-Def elements
U.S. theatrical trailer
Optional English subtitles
DISC TWO, THE EXTRAS:
The Making of Into Great Silence : With behind-the-scenes footage,
location photos and handwritten notes from the monks
Additional scenes, including a segment on the preparation of the
Carthusian s world-famous Chartreuse liqueur
The Carthusian Order : An informative guide to the rules, architecture, and
"Zeitgeist Films presents a documentary directed and written by Philip Groning. In French and Latin with English subtitles. Filmmaker Philip Groning spent six months living among the monks of the Grand Chartreuse Charterhouse in the French Alps for his documentary "Into Great Silence." The filmmaker was granted unprecedented permission to film in 2002. This was not given lightly, for his request was put forth to the prior sixteen years earlier.
This is cinema at its purest and most exalted. It is hard to place into words a film, which is wrought in silence. For 162-minutes you will be allowed a glimpse of the ascetic strictness of the monks. I do not see this as a documentary, but an immersion into an entire way of life that will have no voiceovers or explanations. Just a small part of our time spent in transcendent meditation on the human pursuit of meaning, on man as a religious and social creature, on the form and function of symbols, ritual and traditions. And on the rhythms of work and prayer, night and day, winter and spring.
It is a beautiful film where everyone will take away something different and hopefully fulfilling. The film will not allow you to enter the world of the monks, but to just view it from the outside. You will see the day-to-day activities from season to season and be able to form your own opinions and conclusions. Many may at first experience impatience at the repetitions and variations encountered, but allow yourself time to adjust to the contemplative pace. And be witness to the ordinary moments that taken together are a representation of grace.
The Carthusian monks who are the subjects of this documentary do not have a great deal to say. Living in a light-filled stone charterhouse in a picturesque valley in the French Alps, they bind themselves to a vow not of literal silence but of extreme reticence. We view the daily lives, prayers and routines of this most ascetic of Catholic Orders founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno. The monks, because of their vow of poverty, subsist on very little. They pray aloud at times and sing solemn Gregorian chants, but they rarely speak, except on there Monday walks.
The monks in their rigor and discipline find their freedom and fulfillment. Your view on the monastery and our world will change as the movie progresses. And isn't that what a good movie or book is suppose to accomplish? It is a world of yesteryear as it existed one thousand years ago, where some modern technology has crept in, as you will see. In our modern world of moral decay this gives us a window to a traditional Catholic existence. A two thousand year tradition of following the Desert Fathers into a way of life that is rarely, if ever, seen.
I feel that this film is about the presence of God, a God who is there for those who seek Him with their whole hearts. In the film only a blind monk offers some simple but piercing observations on Christian happiness, abandonment to God's providential care, and the tragedy of the loss of faith and meaning in the modern world.
This film is not only for Catholics, it is for everyone in the world to see and benefit from. "
Should have been called "Into Great Happiness"
Eric | Brooklyn, New York United States | 05/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film in the Independent Film Forum in NYC's Greenwich Village, and ended up having a two hour discussion about it afterwards. The main thing that shocked me about this film was how happy all of these monks are. If anyone would tell the average modern American to have every hour of the rest of your life neatly regimented into time segments, without time for television, vacations, or intimacy with members of the opposite sex, most Americans would thing of that as being excruciatingly difficult. However, when looking at the daily activities of these men, you "get it". Because of the regimentation of their daily tasks, when they do get a few hours on Sunday to talk, those hours are beautiful and meaningful. Their lives seem like the way life was supposed meant to be, one of hard work and communion with the Creator. I highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for a film that will slow their mental pace down and make them reflect on the importance of the various things you value in your own life."
Fascinating, if slow, documentary about carthusian monks
Andres C. Salama | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 04/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This almost silent three hour documentary tracks the daily lives of Carthusian monks living at the Chartreuse Monastery in the French Alps, as they live in a way that seems to be in such contrast with the modern world. It's a fascinating movie if you are able to get into the slow rhythm of the film (if you are still in the movie theater after an hour, you will probably made it to the third hour). By the same token, it would be almost impossible to see it in your house on DVD, since there are so many possible distractions that would make you want to stop the film. Remarkably, given that European filmmakers tend to be among the most secular people in the world, the movie is also surprisingly respectful of the choices made by the monks in living in this particular way."
The Thunder of Silence
Claudio-Miguel | California | 04/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was fortunate to view this Documentary last year in Pasadena, California.
I went to see it again last month in Santa Monica, California.
It is to a Documentary like this that people will view over and over and ask themselves the question of: "Why"? The life of a Carthusian Monk is so far removed from our life in the World and we ask ourselves why one is drawn to become a Carthusian Monk.
There is no religious order that takes a VOW OF SILENCE. This was a common belief of the Trappists (Cistercians). As with the Trappists of old, Carthusians simply 'OBSERVE' Silence and eventually desire it.
From the Solemn Investiture of Novices into the Charterhouse of Le Grande Chartreuse; watching Monks getting a hair-cut; the tailor-monk making new habits; the simple act of eating one's meal alone in cell; the Solemn, repetitive chanting of the "BENEDICITE" from the Psalms in a darkened, candlite Church; to Monks enjoying their once-a-week outing on the snow slopes of the French Alps.......all these acts draw us inward and overwhelm our senses and give us a sense and portion of what it is like to be a member of the Strictest Order within Roman Catholicism.
If viewers are interested in further knowledge of the Carthusian Life, they might want to get Nancy Klein Maguire's book: "AN INFINITY OF LITTLE HOURS". Dr. Maguire takes us to St. Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminister, U.K. and follows 5 young men from 1960 as they enter this Charterhouse to follow their desire to become a Carthusian Monk.
Dr. Maguire's book is a magnificent companion to "INTO GREAT SILENCE'
It is a book that I have read and re-read many times and have not been moved so much since, except when I first read Thomas Merton's Autobiography - "SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN".
Buy the DVD! (Into Great Silence) Buy the BOOK! (An Infinity of Little Hours)
YOU WILL BE DOUBLY BLESSED!!
A Prayerful Experience
Kevin Murray | Coronado, CA United States | 08/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"5 stars for what it is - a meditative look into the sacred lives of these men, cloistered away from the world, but a community of believers who come together daily for prayer, and sometimes even for a bit of fun. If you watch this film, do so in a quiet place, and commit yourself to remaining in silence, without distraction, for the entire film, so you can experience the solitude and stillness of the monastery. The first hour may be excruciating, as you wait for something to happen, but as you relax into the quiet and feel the presence of God in the faces of the monks, you will get a taste of why people live in this way. What a gift this was - a gift from the monks to us."