Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Into Great Silence" DVD to be Released in US

The international hit movie/documentary "Into Great Silence" about the silent Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, head monastery of the Carthusian order will be released on DVD this coming October. is already pre-selling copies of the DVD as it currently ranks #612 in their DVD sales.

I have been following the story of this film for some time now and have greatly anticipated its release in the US. Many different publications such as Catholic World Report magazine and the National Catholic Register have done stories about the film describing its beauty and important message.
Here is an excerpt from a recent Register article:
The formal rigor of the finished 164-minute film, mirroring the ascetic strictness of the monks themselves, offers none of the didactic or expositional context associated with typical documentaries. No voiceover narration expounds the history of the monastery buildings or the Carthusian order. No captions introduce us to the events or rituals we see.
The result is more than a documentary of monastic life. It is a transcendent meditation on the human pursuit of meaning, on man as a religious and social creature, on the form and function of symbols and ritual and tradition; on the rhythms of work and prayer, day and night, winter and spring.
For all its asceticism, Into Great Silence is an exquisitely beautiful film. Precise compositions and splendid use of light at times overtly suggest the paintings of Vermeer, while stunning use of the natural beauty around the monastery may evoke Malick or Tarkovsky.
I'm very excited to see this movie and to see what sort of potential impact it may have. Our world hates silence. We are constantly being bombarded by media that our senses have become numb. We can't stand silence, it has become repulsive to us. Never before, I believe, would there have been any concept of "awkward silence." It's not the silence that is awkward, it is us.
This attitude has even seeped into the way we worship at Mass. There are very little moments of silence in the Mass any longer. When there is we get an antsy feeling someone should be "doing something." Pope Benedict has noticed this and wrote about the need for silence in his recent Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. Here are some of the highlights:
(50) Furthermore, the precious time of thanksgiving after communion should not be neglected: besides the singing of an appropriate hymn, it can also be most helpful to remain recollected in silence.
(55) Active participation in the eucharistic liturgy can hardly be expected if one approaches it superficially, without an examination of his or her life. This inner disposition can be fostered, for example, by recollection and silence for at least a few moments before the beginning of the liturgy
We must learn to cultivate a spirit of silence within ourselves so that we can hear the voice of God in the "sound of a low whisper." (1 Kings 19:12) God rarely comes with trumpets blazing but prefers the silence of our hearts. If silence is awkward to us, will we hear the voice of God?


Christopher said...

Awesome. If I knew where I'd be in October, I'd definitely pre-order it! I've read several articles about this film and I cannot wait for the opportunity to see it!

Ray from MN said...

Thanks for posting the information on the DVD of this.

I saw the movie when it opened in Minneapolis about Mar 30.

I really enjoyed it. But some of those who attended with me fell asleep.

A common reaction was that it should be best seen on a big screen because you really have to pay attention.

I recommend to all those who haven't seen it yet to do a little research in the Internet on Carthusians on Google, Wikipedia, etc., to familiarize yourself with what you will be watching.

You'll want to at some point if you invest in the DVD anyway.

You won't see much "liturgy." Only brief glimpses. Apparently, the "Carthusian Rite" is very plain.

And shown in the movie are the "contemplative" Carthusians under perpetual vows; and also a Temporary Vow class of those who do much of the manual labor (cooking, farming, barbering, etc) for the monastery. But it is not explained as there is no explanation in the movie to speak of.

The links you will find will explain that.

Saginaw said...

Thanks for the well informed comments!

Gabe said...

Wonderful movie. I saw it a couple of weeks ago in downtown Washington, and it was one of the best movies I have ever seen. It is extremely moving, peaceful, and never boring.

Do try to see it in a movie theater, though, because I'm sure it will lose some of its impact on the small screen.