"Into Great Silence" (3)

Just to add a few points based on my own experience of the film.

During the first half I felt myself dozing slightly (during a very long fixed shot of one of the monks praying in his cell), but I soon realised that the director, Philip Gröning, knew exactly what he was doing. It seemed to me that he wanted the audience to let go of their expectations in terms of narrative drive and drama, and open themselves up to something much deeper and more challenging. The gentle rhythm of the film (times of prayer, the passage of the seasons, recurring visual motifs such as the close-ups of monks faces held for an unusually long time, etc...) invites you to enter into contemplation yourself creating a kind of sacred space, allowing you to become more aware of God's presence and more self-aware in terms of who you are and your relationship with God.

I found the second half of the film a joyously transcendent and at times profoundly moving experience, though until the last 15 mins. or so we see the same kinds of thing on screen. The first part of the film is like a necessary purification so as to become more open to what God may be trying to say to us. There is an austere beauty in the visuals throughout and also elements of humour in the film, especially towards the end.

By that time I had become so engrossed in this monastic world that I found leaving it very difficult. Coming out into a busy Parisian street was most painful, and yet the film had somehow embedded deep in me a greater sense of peace and contentment which helped me to return to the challenges of my life with greater courage, hope and trust.

"Into Great Silence" is a film that will live long in my memory and I certainly intend to buy it when it comes out on dvd.

A couple links to follow for trailers:
in English
a different one in French
God bless.

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