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October 23, 2007

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DVD of the Week – Into Great Silence (2007)

by RISHI AGRAWAL

I am unsure if Into Great Silence can be enjoyed at home, but I would suggest trying to recreate the theater experience as much as possible. Turn off all the lights and free yourself from distraction. And the most important thing you can do is, once you start the movie, put away the remote control. No stopping, pausing, fast forwarding or anything. Let the movie run its course.

This is certainly not a film for everyone. It is a documentary about life in a Carthusian monastery with no narration, extremely sparse dialogue, no music and a lot of silence. This is one of those films that is not about the film itself as about the experience. The viewer becomes part of that experience and your subjective reaction to the experience becomes a large part of the value.

The intent of the film is to have the viewer reach some sort of spiritual epiphany. The film is beautiful, and, it must be said, somewhat dull. I am not sure if this makes sense, but to enjoy the film, you can’t be judging it or waiting for something to happen, but you just have to let the flow over you and encompass you. At close to three hours, the film might test your patience, but if you can push past that, I think you’ll find that what’s left at the core is worth the effort.

The two-disc DVD set offers many extras for those who actually want to learn something about the life of the monks. There is behind-the-scenes footage, additional scenes, photo galleries, and a guide to the rules, architecture and daily schedule of the monastery. Thankfully, there is no commentary track, which, in my opinion, would ruin the film.

Original Commentary Track review of Into Great Silence by Helen Geib.

Other new releases this week: 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama, Fido, Hostel Part II, Meet the Robinsons, Mr. Brooks


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 26 2007

    Maybe I’ll have to check it out…. Your review reminds me a bit of Russian Arc, which I actually didn’t care for though.

  2. Helen
    Nov 10 2007

    Russian Ark is an apposite comparison. It and Into Great Silence are fundamentally experiential – constructed to permit the viewer to vicariously experience the place/ rhythm/ sensory immersion. Russian Ark is the more difficult film in its abstractions, symbology, and elliptical and whirlwind tour of centuries of Russian history. Despite the foreignness of the Carthusian way, Into Great Silence is readily accessible to anyone willing to fully surrender to the experience.

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