Thursday, April 26, 2007

Into Great Silence

My husband and I went to see the film Into Great Silence (or Die Grosse Stille in German) today.

It was a bit like a meditation, watching the film. It is two hours and 44 minutes long and you really feel it, but not necessarily in a bad way. The film documents, in a quiet and beautiful way, the lives of monks living in The Grande Chartreuse, the "mother house" of the legendary Carthusian Order in the French Alps.

I was really struck with the power of sound and the power of silence. All the residents of the monastery stay silent while indoors, but let it all loose (as much as they are capable) when they go out into nature. It was fascinating to watch them accomplish their chores. Everything was so beautiful and old, including the tools they used. It seemed that everything was made of wood or stone, but every now and then, something startling would appear, like modern bicycle wheels on the ancient wooden cart that delivered the food to the individuals cells.
A still from the film "Into Great Silence"

I left the theater feeling very calm and peaceful and spent some time with the flowers in my garden when I returned home. My favorite monk was the gnome-like gardener and food preparer. The French Alps get hit pretty hard by the snow, and watching this amazing man working in the snow to dig out his garden beds, so he could plant new seeds for vegetables to feed his brothers brought tears to my eyes.

My husband enjoyed it as well, but was a little disturbed by the rigidity of monastic life. I wouldn't last very long in any situation that demanded I be and act a specific way. Their faith is fundamentalism in a beautiful way, but fundamentalism none the less.

If you are in the mood for a three-hour visual meditation, and are not put off by Christian ideals, I highly recommend seeing this film in the theaters.

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