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Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD]

4.4 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Producers: Philip Groning
  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Soda Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 14 May 2007
  • Run Time: 164 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,887 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Into Great Silence is a very strict, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material. Changing of time, seasons, and the ever repeated elements of the day, of the prayer. A film to become a monastery, rather than depict one. A film on awareness, absolute presence, and the life of men who devoted their lifetimes to God in the purest of form. Contemplation. An object in time. Into Great Silence is the first film ever about life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the legendary Carthusian Order in the French Alps. From the director of the award-winning 'L'amour, l'argent, l'amour' and 'The Terrorists'.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is not a film to be rushed, any more than the Carthusian way of life itself. The monks at La Grande Chartreuse live in solitude high in the Alps, in a life of prayer and quiet almost unknown elsewhere in the Western Christian tradition. In an order where the monks are not renowned for their singing, and whose communities are really hermits banded together, what we are invited to look at is spirituality as sight and as hearing in ways that in a fast-paced, media-dominated world we may miss. We see the changing seasons in a monastery in the Alps: the oblique light on a stone wall, the gentle drip of water, the crackle of a fire in a rickety stove. All seen and experienced slowly, with a minimum of dialogue. This means that, when we hear the monks singing in their long night services the canticle "O all you works of the Lord, O bless the Lord" and we see, using time-lapse filming, a night's worth of stars wheeling over the mountain valley where the monastery is, we get somewhere close to the central intent of the film: how to portray a life where the drama is unseen, where the action is interior, where time works in a different way than we might expect. Philip Groening underlines this by repetition of phrases from the Bible, and by footage of some of the community sitting silent in front of the camera; we can guess, but cannot know what they are thinking or feeling.

A bio-pic of a religious hero or founder may (or may not) make a good film, but at least it's a narrative, and as viewers we are comfortable with narrative, have standards against which we can judge the effectiveness of the storytelling &c. Groening avoids this by looking at the lives of the Carthusian monks in terms of their aesthetic.
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This is a very beautiful film. The Carthusian monks of La Grande Chartreuse allowed Philip Groning to film alone with no commentary or interviews for a total of six months. The result is a film which demands from the viewer just a tiny measure of the patience, attentiveness and silence which characterises the life of this community. The insight one gains into one of the Church's most ascetic Christian communities is more profound than a documentary full of 'information' or titlating facts. The viewer is more than a 'voyeur'. Frequently, the camera depicts expressions, postures, the textures of skin, the glint of snow or the splashing of rain in exquisite detail. At other times, the camera's gaze is blurred and grainy, reminding us that our view of this extraordinary community - and, indeed, the world - is far from clear. Whereas so much modern cinema relies on plot and effect, this film returns us to the aesthetic potential of film as a visual medium in examining a completely different kind of human living. The monks are not 'escaping', but confronting the human condition in a different way. In the middle of the night, from midnight to 2am or 3am, thirty or so men in the French Alps are praying for the world. Thank God.
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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.
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The finding of God in solitude, is the essence of the monastic path. This film is rare, for it allows the viewer to become an observer of a way of life that is a mystery to most and a chosen vocation of a few.

Any monastery exists around a 'Rule' of discipline, designed to still the Mind, and open the heart. The Rules are generaly very strict, so as to 'limit' one's participation in the world of chaotic emotion, turbulent desire. When the emotions are 'stilled', they then may be transformed into the Love of God, a direct and personal contact that is beyond description, but a product of discipline on the physical level.

The monastery setting, is a holy place to commune with the divine that lies at the heart of humanity. The extraordinary feat of the producer of this film, is that he managed to remain virtually 'hidden' in the monastery, whilst filming all that occured within his range of perception. One feels the sheer dedication and holy silence that permeates the stone hallways and monastic cells.

This s not a film to stimulate the senses, but rather to take one beyond the senses, and at least, as a viewer, allow for the possibility that there maybe more to life than is generally observed by the senses. A divine presence behind the material play of the world.

By performing a daily ritual of prayer, meditation, contemplation and Gregorian Chant, the monks strive to purify their inner beings in preparation with the eventual uniting with God. Essence in repetition. We see young postulants entering as novices, and an extremely old monk, enveloped in spiritual rapture, a consequence of a lifetime of service.

This is definitely a film of the spirit, intended for the spirit.
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