Into Great Silence is the phenomenal box office smash hit about life inside the Grande Chartreuse that has opened to rapturous acclaim across the Western World. The director, Philip Groning, made his request 19 years ago to film inside the monastery where the last photos taken were in 1960, only to be told that it was 'too early' that maybe in 10 or 15 years... Eventually, as a result of this long standing and trusted relationship between the Film Director and the General Prior, permission to film was granted. Into Great Silence is a very strict, next to silent documentary on monastic life with no music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews and no commentaries and is the first feature to document life inside the mother house of the legendary Carthusian Order in the French Alps. The viewer is invited to watch the films as part of a meditative experience where the film becomes the monastery rather than depicting one. A film for those who want to embrace awareness, absolute presence and to contemplate the life of men who have devoted themselves to God in the purest form.
It has to be crystal clear before viewing this that it is about a French monastery where silence is the general rule. With this expectation it is a sensational film, brimming with such intense devotion and spirituality that even an atheist was moved. The film has many 8 second scenes depicting the soulful lives within the monastery, which once truly immersed, are in fact not long enough. It is definitely not a film for dipping into. All or nothing. It lived with me for many days and makes me calm whenever I remember it.
- Into Great Silence review by Tim from London
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You rated this film: 2
I know this film is highly aclaimed but I found it really hard work. It is basically a documetary observing the life and rituals inside the Grande Chartreuse. As the title suggests the film is very silent - with no music (apart from the monks chanting) and few words - in fact the first spoken words come no less than twenty five minutes into the film. The camera keeps a respectful distance throughout and observes long scenes of prayer and worship - and there are some wonderful shots of the surrounding scenery. But at two and a half hours I found this film really heavy going.