Monday, April 20, 2009

Movie Review: Into the Great Silence

Will you watch a 162 minutes movie/documentary with no music score, no voice over and no archival footage? And all about monks?

Into the Great Silence is about the life in the monastery of The Grand Chartreuse in the French -Alps. It is considered one of the most ascetic monastery in the world. In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Groning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to make a documentary about them. Sixteen years later, they replied that they are ready to be filmed.

Groning spent six months living in the monks' quarters recording the documentary, without a crew or artificial lighting. It was first shown to a stunned world in 2005 and became a great spiritual classic.

This 2007 2-disc release features the original documentary on the first disc. The second disc shows a full Night Office service, video-documentary history of the Carthusians, photo gallery of the monastery and many others.

I was hesitant to watch this last night because my soul was in anguish in learning about a good friend who has been diagnosed to be suffering from an incurable disease which has no effective treatment. We have worked together in an NGOs to help the poor and the sick. Apart from that he has contributed a lot to the community in Johor Bharu. In a way, I was angry at God for the injustice in making him suffer.

This silent movie was a balm to my soul. In the daily routine of the monks, in their prayers, their tasks, their daily rituals and their rare outdoor excursions reveals to me the transcendence and immanence of God. In the slow dance of light and darkness, movement and hush, doing and being, I begin to see what the Teacher in Ecclesiastes was teaching us about living and dying, and what Job discovered in God's answer to his questions about God and living.

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Blogger Paul Long said...

I don;t know if I could patiently sit through such a movie unless someone with more knox sat with me and helped me with commentary ... which would then probably kill the whole point of the movie?

6:27 AM  

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