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Into Great Silence(Die große Stille)

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France, Switzerland, Germany · 2005
2h 42m
Director Philip Gröning
Genre Documentary

Sixteen years since his initial request, filmmaker Philip Gröning travels to Grande Chartreuse, a monastery in the French Alps. Over six months, Gröning follows the monks' rituals and daily schedule. In this documentary, the filmmaker explores his newfound isolation amongst a group of men who rarely allow visitors.

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What are critics saying?


Village Voice by

Natural light is used to euphoric effect, inevitably summoning the old masters, and Gröning's frames are balanced and symmetrical, in Renaissance-ready emulation of God's perfection.


The New York Times by A.O. Scott

I hesitate, given the early date and the project's modesty, to call Into Great Silence one of the best films of the year. I prefer to think of it as the antidote to all of the others.


Salon by Andrew O'Hehir

This is a remarkable work of pure documentary cinema, and a mystical accomplishment on the order of Wagner's "Parsifal" or Tarkovsky's "The Sacrifice." That's hardly anybody's thing these days -- it's not often mine. But the effort, in this case, is worth it.


L.A. Weekly by Ella Taylor

Gröning makes us fully feel the rhythms of their lives, but for the same reasons that most of us couldn't or wouldn't last in such a stripped-down environment, the movie, at just shy of three hours, starts to feel oppressive after two.


TV Guide Magazine by Ken Fox

Groning's approach gives the viewer a rare chance to really listen to what water sounds like when it drips from a tin bowl, or the watch what patterns raindrops make when they fall on a shallow puddle -- purely sensual, cinematic experiences. In such moments we sense the point of view of a patient, sensitive filmmaker.


Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan

A transcendent, transporting experience, a trance movie that casts a major league spell by going deeply into a monastic world that lives largely without words.


The A.V. Club by Noel Murray

As a place to enter and meditate, Into Great Silence is imminently worthy, but as a documentary, it doesn't do enough to probe the meaning of the quotation Gröning returns to repeatedly: "Oh Lord, you have seduced me, and I was seduced."


New York Post by V.A. Musetto

The overwhelming silence is broken mainly by chanting and the ringing of the monastery bells. Call it life in the slow, slow, slow lane.

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