Into Great Silence

2005 [GERMAN]


Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

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1.45 GB
French 2.0
25 fps
2 hr 41 min
P/S ...
2.98 GB
French 5.1
25 fps
2 hr 41 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by rasecz8 / 10

A long contemplative documentary on monastic life

Winter, spring, summer, fall...and winter. No, this is not the quasi-eponymous Korean movie. It is the period of time over which the film was shot, around 2002. It is a documentary on the Grande Chartreuse cloister situated in a deep valley above the city of Grenoble, France. A couple of dozen monks live there. There are novices on probation and seniors long having made their vow of permanent ascetic life. The rhythm of their daily cloistered routines is the backbone of the film: frequent prayers, meals eaten alone in individual private apartments, execution of assigned chores, etc. From Monday to Saturday few words are exchanged. The only sounds are those of human movement, work activities, church bells and chirps from the surrounding forest. The only music to be heard is that of liturgical evening chants.

Not every aspect of monastic life is covered. As the director explains, this is not an informational film. It is a long contemplation on ascetic life. It may seem too long after two hours. The tedious repetitiveness is purposeful however. Even on-the-screen quotes are shown multiple times throughout the movie accentuating that repetitiveness. It is enough to convince us that it takes a special individual to commit to such constrained existence, one modulated only by the moods of the seasons. We are presented with snapshots of odd moments: monks frolicking in the snow; preparing a vegetable garden for spring seeding; a summer Sunday outing when monks are free to socialize and, on this day, they discuss the appropriateness of washing one's hands before meals (a contrarian monk has a simple solution: don't get your hands dirty).

Despite the isolation, there are signs the outside world is not too far. Fruits are served with supermarket produce number stickers still attached, correspondence and bills arrive and managed with a laptop computer (no evidence of an Internet connection),and some of the tools are distinctly modern.

It's a quiet film. Too long and soporific for some, possibly inspiring to others. What stayed with me after watching 162 minutes of this is the plain beauty of the cloister and the reminder of a life style that we may have thought extinct in the West.

Reviewed by Andy-2968 / 10

Fascinating if you get into it

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.

Reviewed by Michael Fargo9 / 10

You will find your way both to and into this film on your own

I've often pondered which sense would I rather lose: sight or hearing. I had decided sight would be the one to live without since music has the power to make me weep (often). But "Die Große Stille" has made me rethink all of that. It's a pointless game anyway, but I reexamined the importance of sound in my life versus the magnificent, ravishing images put forth in this film.

Like the works of Frederick Wiseman, it's less a work of cinema than a window that Gröning offers. We watch seemingly arbitrary action both mundane and ecstatic. We're not "told" who these people are as individuals nor why they have chosen to wall themselves off from the world's joy and suffering. But as we watch, the pace of the film is slowed so that we enter this world and test our own thoughts about human contact as well as faith. But only if you're so inclined. There's no proselytizing.

At one point late in the film one monk chides the world for living without God, and you immediately think, "How would YOU know?" And immediately we see the value of silence. In silence we don't argue or plead, complain or preach. We simply live with our thoughts, and here the brothers seem very comfortable with whatever it is they are thinking.

Through repetition and ceremony, we enter the serenity these men have found. And while there's beauty in the physical aspects of both the natural world in its changing seasons as well as the cloistered setting, it's the tranquil beauty of faces that rivet. We meet them as individuals only in a series of live portraits where their eyes stare into the lens, through the camera, and into our souls. If I didn't have my sight, I would have missed that and been lesser for it.

For me, this was an amazing experience. But for others in the theater it was tough evidenced by squirming and the occasional snore. Surprisingly, it was the younger members of the audience who seemed most entranced.

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