Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Into Great Silence.

Into Great Silence opens today in New York, a cinematic event I've been waiting for but which probably won't get much attention overall (though A. O. Scott gave the film a very positive review in today's New York Times). Winner of the award for Best Documentary at the 2006 European Film Awards and recipient of a Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, Into Great Silence offers a rare glimpse at life within the walls of the Grand Chartreuse, the Alpine motherhouse of the Carthusian Order. Often described as the most austere monastic order in the Roman Catholic Church, a religious community "never reformed because never deformed," the Carthusians live a life of disciplined contemplation. Like other Carthusian houses, the Grand Chartreuse exercises no external apostolate (except, perhaps, the production of Chartreuse) and rarely accepts guests. Understandably intrigued by these mysterious monks, German filmmaker Philip Gröning sent a letter to the prior of the Grand Chartreuse in 1984 to ask whether he could make a documentary about life inside the cloister. Sixteen years later, Gröning was given the green light to film inside the Grand Chartreuse, with a few important conditions: he couldn't bring a crew or use artificial lighting, and the film he produced could have no narration or soundtrack beyond what he captured within the cloister. After spending six months at the Grand Chartreuse and shooting hundreds of hours of film, Gröning produced Into Great Silence. The various reviews I've read of Into Great Silence have been positive, with even resolutely secular critics expressing appreciation for the film. I'm planning to see it this weekend, after which I may contribute a review of my own. AMDG.


At 3/02/2007 1:55 PM, Blogger H.M. said...

It will be opening in my hometown (Minneapolis) at the end of March, and I can't wait!


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