Saturday, February 17, 2007

Die Grosse Stille

I've had a really busy week with commitments most evenings, which meant I have been rushed off my feet. One of the things I wanted to do was to go and see into great silence so I met up with a couple of friends at the showroom, including curig, a and M&E, though E admitted that she fell asleep during the film.
It's a film that I heard about around a year ago and sounded like an interesting experiment in docu-film making. German film maker Philip Groning had requested to film a group of Carthusian Monks, and sixteen years later was granted permission, provided he added no additional sound or commentry and used just natural lighting. What is produced is an almost three hour insight into the regulated and silent life of these monks. Dedicated to regular prayer, study and silent meditation, you are drawn into their routine. These scenes of their ritualistic life are interspersed with stunning images of the surrounding Alpine scenery which slowly transforms as the seasons change. The day to day chores of the monks are conducted with integrity and also a warmth. It is during these scenes that the personalities of the monks comes across, despite the lack of talking. There are shots of the monks, alone facing the camera, where they seem to radiate an air of confidence and contentment with compassion. The slow pace of life with plenty of time for silence and reflection is in stark contrast to my rushing around at the moment, and there is something about their use of time, space and silence that I think we can all learn from. Why these men choose to live such a life remains a mystery, and what purpose it might serve is not made clear, and is left to the viewer to form. Certainly an interesting piece of art work, with definate underlying spirituality. Sunday afternoons the only time reserved for a recreational walk and conversation, opitimised by the wonderful scenes of the monks sliding down a snow laden hill side in their shoes. Marred only by a conversation with a blind monk who proports that because God is infinately good then there can be good to come out of all situations, and hence he gains strength from his disability. An argument which does not stand up in the face of many atrocities that the world has seen, and perhaps an easier statement to make when living an aesthetic lifestyle as this.

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