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206 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demanding time and commitment, but well worth watching.
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...
Published on 28 April 2007 by Nicktomjoe

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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Into Great Silence follows Cistercian monks in their silent, meditative routine. It manages to portray very brilliantly the reality of their lives, showing how men can lead these incredibly austere lives but still be very human.

It is too long and not a film to watch if you are easily distracted as you need to be fully absorbed to appreciate it I think...
Published on 4 Aug 2007 by R. Coke


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206 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demanding time and commitment, but well worth watching., 28 April 2007
This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (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. In a curious way this gives a very deep insight into the almost silent life of the community. The film is non-judgmental, although my heart went out to the lay brother and the cats and followed the choir monk ringing the bells anxiously when he was late. I don't know if it makes me want to be a Carthusian, but I do know that when I've watched this film I am conscious of those everyday sights and sounds in my life so much more.

There are creaks in the film, where restrictions on filming or (very occasionally) poor quality of images take the edge off the experience, but they are part of the event. It is, for me, simply one of the best films I own, but it's not an easy film to watch, demanding time and attention: things that would appear to be at the heart of the Carthusian experience.
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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 13 Aug 2007
By 
S. Oliver (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
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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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A look inside cloistered walls, 23 Nov 2007
By 
M. A. Ramos (Florida USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirit and Solitude., 9 July 2007
By 
ShiDaDao Ph.D (London UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
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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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Great Silence - five stars, 18 Mar 2007
This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
I saw this film recently at the cinema and was incredibly moved by it. In a time of global chaos, Into Great Silence gives you time to think about special and important things and to question what we put value on. highly recommended for your spiritual well being.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A look inside cloistered walls, 7 Oct 2007
By 
M. A. Ramos (Florida USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006], 21 July 2007
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This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
In order to appreciate and experience the depth of this film you need to allow the silence of the film to penetrate the soul. This is a film that must not be rushed you must have time, tranquillity, quietness and not expect a story or a documentary. It is a film that contravenes the rush and pace of life of the world today and shows the real values and true hunger for God in silence. Allow the silence and the way of life to show a different world and meaning to life. Those people who view the film through merely their eyes and ears have missed its meaning as it should transcend them to the eyes and ears of the soul that's where silence speaks. If this film was condensed into 20 minutes as some have suggested, you have lost its spiritual richness contained in the silence. Enjoy the silence and it becomes like meditation. Not everyone is suited to silent prayer and not everyone is suited to vocal prayer but that doesn't mean one way is right or wrong.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly edifying, 27 May 2011
By 
B. HUNTLEY (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
A combination of the artful filming and the beautiful setting of this film make it unmissable. It is lengthy, but appropriately so.

The spirituality and asceticism of the Carthusian order is captured in this film beautifully.

It successfully portrays Roman Catholic monasticism as a noble and inspirational lifestyle.

I thoroughly recommend this film to all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Great Silence, 23 Mar 2011
This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
Into Great Silence may appeal to some who are searching, you may not find all your answers here, but this should carry you a good distance along the way. A very humbling experience,inspiring a renewed spirituality.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into great silence, a great work, 7 Jun 2007
By 
L. Taylor - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into Great Silence (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a film/documentary that demands time, an open mind and an open heart. In today's modern and fast-paced world, the monastic life of the monks of 'Grande Chartreuse' may seem alien, almost unreal. But the part of us that longs for God will somehow understand the deeper message this films portrays. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience.
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