Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Into the Great Silence

We began watching this last night (movie totals close to 3 hours)and it would be hard to describe it accurately, but I'll try. I think what this movie does, not with words (because there are hardly any) is to immerse you into the silence of the Carthusians. I think you will get more out of this beautiful movie if you first read the excellent book written about the English Carthusians at Parkminster,An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order. This book will make the movie very intelligible to those who do not understand even the basics about monasticism....on the other hand you might watch the movie and then read the book to answer the questions that will inevitably arise from the experience.
And watching this film is an experience. Joseph who watched the early part of the film with me (which takes place during the winter) said, "there isn't much color" and I replied, "not much talking either." He was intrigued as the monks prayed, "kept vigil--watch" in the middle of the night...waiting for the Lord who will return "like a thief in the night"when we least expect so "keep watch" and wondered "do they ever sleep?" This is truly a film unlike any I've ever seen. I joked with Amy that she was about to see the monk's interviews--the camera focuses on them for a few minutes individually, they say nothing and in saying nothing they speak volumes.
Looking for a short retreat?

I once thought and still think that an encounter with monasticism challenges everything that we think about life and our purpose here in the great exile.

Update: Some have questioned how we have this when it hasn't been released yet, the answer is that we have the one-disc version that was available from the Canadians. However...this two disc version that will be available contains a great additional disc that will have some of the things that I felt I wanted to see and didn't in the actual movie...like how they make that liquor they are famous for....


  1. I saw it at a small theatre and the ending felt like fireworks due to the slow and contemplative lead-up!

    The filmmaker was determined to slow us down and slow us down he did, with agonizingly long looks at monks in prayer and nature scenes. But by the end I perhaps got a taste of their serenity.

    The filmmaker constantly put the words on the screen: "unless you give up everything you cannot be my disciples." But they also put the words up that emphasized the great joy. Some Christians (especially in the past) thought it is all denial. Others think it is all about getting, i.e. cheap grace. So there was a great truth in his constantly putting both quotes up.

  2. I have not seen this movie yet, however my curiosity was heightened by your 2 last comments Michael;

    Looking for a short retreat? I once thought and still think that an encounter with monasticism challenges everything that we think about life and our purpose here in the great exile.

    We certainly need to be challenged.

    Aramis, from the Three Massketeers

  3. When I saw it at the theater this weekend, it was more like 2.5 hours than 4.

    I received my DVD in the mail, and look forward to seeing it again, but will need a bigger screen than we have on our little TV. It was pretty amazing at the theater.

  4. Amazon is telling me that this film will not be released on DVD until October. Is it available somewhere else now? It never did play in a theatre in my area and I would very much like to see it. Please advise and God Bless!

  5. When my copy came, I'd forgotten that I'd ordered it. It's nice to think of all the people in the blogosphere who got their copies in the last couple of days inadvertantly watching the same thing.

    It is truly luminous and challenging.