Into Great Silence.
From an IMAGE e-mail:
"Located in the French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is the mother house of the Carthusian order. As one of the world’s most ascetic monasteries, it has long been the subject of public curiosity. In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote the monastery asking for permission to make a documentary about life within its hallowed walls. Sixteen years later he was given permission to do so, along with specific guidelines: he was to live with the monks, film alone, and use only natural light and sounds. Filmed over a six month period, the award-winning Into Great Silence uses no archival footage or musical score, and what ensues has rightly been called “elemental: time, space, and light… more meditation than documentary.” At 162 minutes, the film allows the viewer a sort of participatory askesis. Without a narrator-guide, the film’s focus becomes the focus of the monks—silence, prayer, simplicity, and God. And journeying alongside the monks into such quietness, the attentive viewer becomes increasingly aware of the tension between true stillness and our enculturated freneticsm. This awareness, then, prepares the viewer not only for the film’s overall impact, but for individual confrontation: interspersed between the daily rhythms of prayer and eating and work are a series of portraits—each silent monk staring straight at the viewer for five to ten seconds. How are you being, they seem to ask. What are you becoming? Near the end of the film an aged and blind monk addresses the viewer: “This is the most important: God is infinitely good, almighty, and He helps us.” Beautifully direct, and offered at the end of such relative silence, one feels the tone of simplicity has been earned. Such beauty, then, lingers over the documentary’s conclusion in much the same way the film has revealed itself: as if a single sustained note had been discovered to contain the very chorus of the world. Special Features on Disc 2 include the chants of the Night Office in its fifty-three minute entirety, additional scenes, a statement by Cardinal Poupard, and a history of the Carthusian order. Additionally, and of particular interest, the disc also contains a behind-the-scenes look at the ancient and secretive art of Chartreuse Liqueur, as well as a full audio gallery of sounds collected during the film."
A trailer is available on Netflix.