Film: Into Great Silence
Follow me into presence: “Into Great Silence” (2005) It is an intimate portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse, high in the French Alps. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and combines eremitical and cenobitic life. The director Philip Gröning had to wait 16 years for a permission to film, and spent 6 months within the monastary to document the monks’ silent way of being. He filmed and recorded the sound on his own, using no artificial light. The film has neither commentary nor sound effects added, consisting only of images and sounds of the rhythm of monastic life.
The observer is sharing the life of the brothers and enters a state of still meditation on it’s won. The natural presence of the monks in everything they do is captivating the silent watcher in front of the screen right into it: washing the dishes, cleaning, making firewood and of course praying and singing are done in an easy and fascinating way. From time to time the monks are filmed silently in portraits, eye to eye.
Apart from some Trappist’ orders, the Carthusian monks are the only order still engaged in a strict contemplating life. Saint Bruno of Cologne received the land to build his monastery from Hugo, bishop of Grenoble because of a dream. Hugo dreamt that seven stars would fall on the land. All of the monks live lives of silence. The Carthusian hermit spends most of his day writing, eating and praying in the cell. The cell is been left only for three prayer services a day for the monastery chapel. Once a week, the community members take a long walk in the countryside during which they may speak; on Sundays and feastdays a community meal is taken in silence. Visitors are not permitted in the monastery. The monks have no contact with the outside world. Their only contribution to the world is their life of prayer, which they undertake on behalf of the whole Church and the human race.