Into Great Silence

This is one of the most calming and thought provoking documentaries that I have seen. Carthusian Monks quietly going about their business in their monastery, Grande Chartreuse, in the French Alps. This movie captures the stillness, the simple beauty, and to these modern eyes, the utter strangeness of the lives that these men have chosen to live.
Philip Gröning filmed this work in a way that allows the monks, the setting, the way of life, the cycles of weather and not himself or even his opinions, no, these men living in a spectacular setting to rhythms, that I would guess many of us have lost sense or track of, are the stars. As they should be. You see them praying, gardening, doing the accounting (monks have bills as well it appears), feeding the cats, getting haircuts all in almost complete silence and full attention to details. He was even able to film them sledding!!! Brilliant. There is no soundtrack, almost no dialogue. That is the strangeness, it is quiet save the bells that structure their lives, prayers, little snippets and the other natural noises that would occur during these men’s days. We live here in our world of noises, deadlines, soccer games, happy hours and the go go go. These men have walked away and into a different world. I’m writing glowing review, would I swap places with them, no. But if you want two and half hours of a completely different, rare, and almost, not quite completely, atemporal way of living shown to you with the eye of some-one who gets how precious these moments and how extraordinary the men who live them are, this is for you.

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