Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

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Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby trevor826 » Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:12 am

Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005/France / Switzerland / Germany)

Directed by Philip Grning

Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter

Made with many conditions attached, Philip Grnings documentary conveys a year in the life of the Carthusian monastary of the Grande Chartreuse, sitting silently and contemplatively in the French Alps.

The conditions imposed meant that no artificial light, no background music, no interviews, no commentary and no other crew could be used. Because of these restrictions the viewer is faced with almost 3 hours of virtual silence, only broken by the Gregorian chants, the general sound of movement of the monks and the tolling of the bells.

Visually the camera uses the available light to great effect, particularly when used with extreme close-ups in dimming light, the picture comes across almost like a moving pointillist painting, quite beautiful in its own way. Its only with regard to the more general and outdoor shots which seem dull in comparison that you get a true sense of the isolation and claustrophobic feel of the monastary.

Being almost entirely self sufficient, the order has its own workshops, laundry, barbers and gardens, the younger initiates carry out the hard labour of log chopping etc while the older monks deal with the lighter work, all of this needs to be fitted around their continuous prayers and studies. Once a week they take a walk outside, still remaining totally detached from society though it does give them an opportunity to communicate with each other.

The repetitive nature of the monks existence is caught perfectly, prayer, reading, chanting, prayer, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year. the seasons change but the song remains the same. Its like a time capsule with a routine that has probably been virtually the same for hundreds of years. As such this film serves as a wonderful advertisement for the monastary and anyone who has the compulsion to share this lifestyle. If you can watch this and still feel the desire to cut yourself off from society living the at times harsh and always repetitive lifestyle of a monk then you will probably last the course, unlike the 80% of novices who leave the order.

A spiritual and devout existence without a doubt but for me it felt more like Hell than Heaven, a self imposed prison sentence, a hermit like existence. If I felt the need to serve God as these men obviously do, then Id rather be working with people to help others, if there is a God, I would hope he'd rather we give our lives to aiding those in need rather than devoting our lives to praising his name.

A surprisingly packed theatre for Into Great Silence, on average you would be lucky to see 20 people at a matinee screening but there were at least double that number. Though nobody left during the film, the silence was broken several times by loud snoring.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 


Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby hengcs » Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:32 pm

I wanted to watch this during our German Film Fest last year,
but due to clashes, I forsake this ...
hengcs
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby trevor826 » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:02 am

I didn't have a problem with the running time, though I'm glad I don't wear a watch. But I felt the overall structure could have been better, too many snippets rather than full scenes, even with the Gregorian chants, you were getting little samples rather than the whole.

The perfect person for a documentary like this, to capture the essence, the scenery, the ambiance, would have been Terrence Malick. Then we may well have had a work of art rather than an engrossing but ultimately flat record of the life of this monastary.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:02 am

Thumbs down, then?

"A spiritual and devout existence without a doubt but for me it felt more like Hell than Heaven, a self imposed prison sentence, a hermit like existence."

Was this how Grning viewed it as well?

I believe I quoted this film earlier in the German Cinema thread. It was released a few weeks ago in the U.S. I might just wait for it to appear on DVD.
arsaib4
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:01 pm

Not a thumbs down but a film I'm unlikely to watch again, it works very well as a record of the life of the monastary and is at times quite artistic. The change in seasons is caught well though it makes very little difference to the monks, apart from a slight bit of fun in the fresh snow.

One interesting and for me a somewhat surprising point was the age range of the monks, surprising because there were a fair few men in their 20's and 30's whereas I'd have thought that most if not all of them would have been far older.

A thumbs up just for the sheer efforts that Grning went through just to get the film made but I think that with the 120+ hours of film he captured during his stay, I feel the editing could have been better.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby justindeimen » Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:10 pm

How would this relate to something fictionalised but the nonetheless faithful depiction of Diary of a Country Priest?

I enjoyed the Bresson and watching an actual documentary about this seems intriguing to me.
justindeimen
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 3:36 pm

Dare I admit it? I've never seen Diary of a Country Priest yet, shameful but true.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby justindeimen » Fri Mar 30, 2007 3:48 pm

No worries. I have been busy myself with contemporary films and possible future masterpieces. With that film, I saw the Criterion on sale and still had to think about acquiring it.
justindeimen
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby trevor826 » Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:59 pm

Dvd update.

The R2 release has 2 discs, the first for the 164 min film and as if that wasn't long enough, the second disc contains around an extra 100 minutes of additional scenes.

Other extras include:

Sound Gallery 38 mins
Stills Gallery 110 images
Poster Gallery

Making of doc
Critical response
The Carthusian way of life.

A solid collection from Soda Pictures.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Into Great Silence / Die Groe Stille (2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Oct 15, 2007 1:53 am

Philip Grning's Into Great Silence is scheduled to be released on Oct 23rd (Zeitgeist Video).

THE DIRECTORS TWO-DISC SPECIAL EDITION

DISC ONE, THE FILM:

*Breathtaking 16:9 anamorphic transfer, created from hi-def elements
*U.S. theatrical trailer
*Optional English subtitles
*Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack

DISC TWO, SPECIAL FEATURES:

*Making-of dossier, with behind-the-scenes footage and handwritten notes from the monks
*Additional scenes, including a piece on the Carthusians world-famous Chartreuse liqueur
*Night Office: A 53-minute excerpt of the monks nightly ritual of psalms, lauds and matins
*The Carthusians: An informative guide to the history, rules, architecture, art and daily schedules of the monks and the monasteries
*Extensive photo and audio galleries
*Video statement by Cardinal Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture at the Vatican
*Also: Essays by the director on the film, its genesis and the Night Office
arsaib4
 


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