Friday, April 20, 2007

Into Great Silence

On Sunday, I ventured out into the Nor'easter to see "Into Great Silence" at the Film Forum.

The nearly three-hour documentary film, with no voice-over or added music, follows the lives of the Carthusian monks (hermits?) at la Grande Chartreuse, a monastery in the French Alps.

The filmmaker, Philip Gröning, lived with the brothers for the six months he made the documentary (with no artificial lighting or extra cameras).

He shows them at prayer, in choir, eating solitary meals and one common meal. He also shows their rare occasions of social interaction, including enjoying the snow of the Alps.

The only thing omitted was the making of the Chartreuse liqueur.

It was difficult sitting through almost three hours of near silence -- made you wonder how these unique men spend nearly their entire lives practicing it in the hope of achieving such great intimacy with God.

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