Into Great Silence

TalkMonks, Monasteries and Monasticism

Join LibraryThing to post.

Into Great Silence

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Aug 2, 2007, 7:50pm

On Tuesday I went to a nearby art museum to watch the German film known in english as 'Into Great Silence' of a French Carthusian monastery.

It bears watching. It is, however, nearly three hours long, so watching it takes a commitment. I thought the movie could be more artful if it had been less arty; there are, among other things, too much graininess and too much darkness. I would also have been happier with it if it had been more informative.

But it was still worth three hours (the drive there, finding parking, the ticket price, to be added). The building is a beautiful mystery, still to be solved at the end of the film. The monks have solitary occupations, at chores and doing lectio divina, yet any loneliness in reaction to that I found entirely to be mine. It is one of the strictest of orders, yet strictness did not seem to play much of a role in the monks' lives. They did what they had to do. Singleness of purpose and isolation from the human world didn't appear to be troublesome, and, by the end, I was buying into it.

The fellows ate well, had cells to retreat to, followed a defined spiritual program, played together during their weekly walks in nature, and talked quasi-nonsense during the let-ups from silence. They were human in spiritual pursuit.

I recommend the work.


Edited: Aug 3, 2007, 2:18pm

Hi, rd
buddy here

Don't know whether or not you know of it, but there is a good website,, and I was intrigued enough by yours of yesterday to go there and search on the movie. Sounds like something I want to see. Thanks for the heads up. On imdb (which stands for the International Movie Data Base) you can also register free to look into the message boards, and a lot of folks had positive things to say. By the way, there is another site called It's a little different than IMDB.

As to the darkness, I used to get really put out with this in many period movies until it occurred to me that darkness was authentic and was really quite normal and what folks used to see. I still don't like it, but understand that was often the norm in those times, I guess.

Aug 6, 2007, 4:36am

Thanks Robert (and buddy). I immediately went to Amazon (via IMDB) and have put the 2 disc DVD of this on my wish list. Guess what I'll be getting for my birthday next month :)

Aug 17, 2007, 10:26am

I saw it at the cinema and loved it, especially the second hour and a half, which flew by for me. I assumed it was mainly shot with natural light. I thought it was a beautiful view of their hidden world.

Mar 24, 2008, 9:17pm

For fictional views, has anyone watched Rumer Godden's two films, made 30+ years apart? both are from her books, one of her earliest and one of the later ones -- Black Narcissus and In This House of Brede. A lot of the monks and nuns have videos on YouTube now also -- look up Gregorian Chant, monastic chant, monastery.

Mar 26, 2008, 2:14pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Mar 26, 2008, 2:15pm

An Infinity of Little Hours by Nancy Klein Maguire is the best book I have ever read about Carthusian life, indeed I would say it is one of the best insights into monastic life in print.