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SilenceInto Great Silence

a review by guest critic,
Dominic DeLay, OP (Holy Name)

The movie "Into Great Silence" is a gentle wind of grace that is blowing through festivals and theaters across the world. I watched it on Holy Saturday and found myself immersed in nearly three hours of riveting silence. No story, no dialogue, no main characters, no dramatic twists and turns. The movie isn't about anything. It's not even about the contemplative Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse in the French Alps. Rather, this movie is an actual sharing in their contemplative experience. It's a bold, foolish, and lavish "waste" of time with the one who delights in our very being. The woman anxiously filing her fingernails behind me during the previews finally stopped once the movie began, and I doubt she was thinking of her fingernails afterwards except perhaps in gratitude for their divinely-sustained imperfection. For a breathtaking preview, more information, and a local screening schedule, go to www.zeitgeistfilms.com.

Silence Hallway"Into Great Silence" embodies the kind of contemplative outreach that I'm trying to do with Mud Puddle Films. Our lavishly four-part cycle of feature-length films, "Last Notes red green blue or black," is an indirectly similar attempt to offer a contemplative experience to general audiences.

Go see "Into Great Silence." Rather, experience it. Take a nap first. Prepare your bladder. And have a bite to eat before rather than distract yourself and others with the activity and noise of popcorn. Afterwards, you can talk with each other about your favorite moments in the film, your own experience of contemplative prayer, and the many hindrances and invitations to silence in your life. Or better, you can arrange regular times to sit in God's silence, alone or with each other. Take this invitation into the great silence, and return to the silence whenever possible, especially during this Easter season of mystery and joy.

Reviewer Fr. Dominic DeLay, O.P. is a filmmaker for the Western Dominican Province.  For more about the province’s filmmaking mission, including its award-winning short films and contemplative cycle of features, Last Notes red green blue or black, come and visit us at www.mudpuddlefilms.com.


German website (in English) www.diegrossestille.de

For more information about Carthusian monks, viewers may also be interested in Nancy Klein Maguire's book An Infinity of Little Hours.

Dominic DeLay
Dominic DeLay, OP


Nestled deep in the postcard-perfect French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is considered one of the world’s most ascetic mon-asteries. In 1984, German film-maker Philip Gröning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to make a documentary about them. They said they would get back to him. Sixteen years later, they were ready. Gröning lived in the monks’ quarters for six months —filming their daily prayers, tasks, rituals and rare outdoor excursions.

For more on Dominic DeLay's films visit Mud Puddle Films
MudPuddle Films

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