Sounds within Silence

This afternoon I watched and, most especially, listened to the film Into Great Silence. An award winning film in 2006 apparently. Probably most people who watch films have seen this one however if you haven’t it’s well worth the time, it’s a two and a half hour meditation period with visuals. Many thanks to the long time sangha friend and fellow blogger for sending me the collector’s edition. I’ve yet to look at the ‘extras’ on the second disk.

The German documentarist Philip Groening waited patiently for 13 years before the Carthusian monastery of the Grande Chartreuse in the French Alps near Grenoble invited him to make a film about their lives, laying down the conditions that there should be no artificial light, no music (other than their own Gregorian chants), no interviews, no commentary and no accompanying crew. The result is the 164-minute Into Great Silence, a meditation on lives given over to poverty, prayer and solitude. It’s an experience from within a repetitive, spiritual existence, rather than an explanatory, exploratory documentary. Groening lived in a cell of his own for a total of four months, covering all seasons, communicating with the monks through letters, shooting 120 hours of material, and in an almost God-like way working as director, producer, scriptwriter, cinematographer, sound recordist and film editor. Read more

With heightened awareness in the audio department I went for a walk after the film finished and heard such squawking from the bushes. A nest of tiny orphaned birds, most likely destined to die very fast. We think the mother has been eaten…probably Smudge our cloister cat. Spare a thought.

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2 thoughts on “Sounds within Silence”

  1. We nearly went to see this film for a planned meditation group outing, but unfortunately missed it by a couple of days…thanks for reminding me about it, sounds great!

    That’s sad about the birds.


  2. The thing about that film for me was the audio. The sounds of flys and bees, the bells of the church and the cow bells too. Usually in films there is so much music designed to build you up and bring you down that it stops being something one is aware of. Even voice looses it’s clarity in the rush for action and more action. So it was refreshing to just have bees buzzing, so evocative of the natural world. Couldn’t do without them. Hum, I feel a blog coming into view…

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