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Article: Press review

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International Press Clippings


Article: Press review


"Witnessing more than two and a half hours of the stillness inside a monastery might sound off-putting, but "Into Great Silence" is such a poetic essay on the slowed-down rhythms of life, that its quiet pleasures carry the viewer along at a pace commensurate with the monks' own unhurried sense of time. With a painterly eye and a deep appreciation for the hermetic world set apart from, rather than at odds with modern life, helmer Philip Groening takes the viewer into their cloistered world. Surprisingly exhilarating docu is an ideal fest item, but could also find arthouse champions.(...)
The conditions imposed on Groening were ones he already envisioned: no interviews, no commentary, no music except for the monks' own chants and no team -- just Groening himself.(...) Groening's camera simply shows what the monks themselves see...
While the docu abounds in beautiful images (patterns formed by the roof tiles, vegetables peeping out of melting snow), Groening isn't looking for some superficially pretty greeting card view. His compositions are rigidly painterly, the monks in their cells recalling countless works of St. Jerome in his study that take on a stillness reminiscent of canvases by Georges De La Tour.
Jay Weissberg

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

"The New York Times"

"A German documentary about Roman Catholic monks who barely utter a word, "Into Great Silence" runs 162 minutes — 162 engrossing, entrancing, enlivening minutes. Operating the camera himself, the director, Philip Gröning, brings us inside a world as mysterious and often as silent as the dark side of the moon. (...) Through unrushed rhythms and a harmonious mise-en-scène, Mr. Gröning finds beauty in a mote of dust, a patch of newly tilled earth and the long white eyebrows that hang over an aged blind monk's eyes like a curtain. Grace, it seems, makes little noise."
Manohla Dargis

"Corriere della sera"

"Sembra un controsenso un film che, a quasi ottant'anni dall'invenzione del cinema sonoro, cerca in tutti i modi di allontanarsi dalle parole. Di tenere a distanza, se non addirittura di cancellare, il dialogo per lasciar alle immagini la possibilità di esprimersi. (...) Gröning non insegue una struttura narrativa tradizionale, non racconta la giornata dei monaci e anche il passare delle stagioni è lasciato decisamente sullo sfondo. Non filma nemmeno per intero le azioni che compiono i frati (...). Il suo film sceglie di restituirci piccole schegge di vita monastica, a volte importanti a volte totalmente marginali. Non si può dire nemmeno che sia la curiosità a guidare il suo lavoro di montaggio. Piuttosto è l'assonanza dei colori, del ritmo, delle inquadrature. A volte la macchina da presa si ferma su un particolare “insignificante” (...) Altre volte ancora sembra essere la bellezza astratta di certe immagini a colpire l'attenzione di Gröning (e) suggerire possibili paragoni pittorici (Cézanne, Seurat). Oppure sono frammenti di azioni quotidiane (...)O semplicemente i giochi di luci e ombre (...). Scena dopo scena, inframmezzate da brevi citazioni bibliche, prende forma sotto i nostri occhi non tanto la vita di un convento ma il convento stesso, il segreto di un luogo che sfugge a molte definizioni..."
Paolo Mereghetti

"La razón"

"En una época en la que cinco minutos de silencio son un lujo (...) alguien podría pensar que esta película-documental estaba condenada a pasar desapercibida ante el gran público, aparentemente ansioso de thrillers de acción y suspense, y poco interesado en un film que rebosa paz y tranquilidad por los cuatro costados. Pero no ha sido así. En Alemania, «El gran silencio» ha sido un auténtico éxito de taquilla, que ha superado con creces a Harry Poter en la media de público por proyección. La que parecía que iba a ser la película de la década ha sido desbancada por una comunidad de monjes orantes. La contemplación ha ganado a la magia de Rowling. (...) Será porque la vida de una de las órdenes monásticas más austeras y desconocidas del mundo ha salido a la luz a través de una película donde el factor tiempo es sólo una circunstancia secundaria y el silencio se convierte en una actitud vital."
Sara Martín

The Daily Telegraph

What some critics feared would be this year's most boring movie turns out to be a strangely fascinating meditation on the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps.
Into Great Silence depicts its Carthusian monks in the midst of their slow moving daily devotions and duties(...). There are even rare moments of jollity: two monks sliding down a snowy slope in their white habits, laughing hysterically, and an elderly monk caught whispering fondly to cats.
The monks broke one of their rules recently to watch the film's final cut. According to the abbot, they laughed a great deal at themselves.
Only one novice had a complaint. It had "not enough action", he thought, or so the abbot later wrote to its German director.
Neither have Mr Gröning nor the monks thrown any light on the reason why the film went ahead.
'It was a journey into another world,' said Mr Gröning, (adding), 'I thought it would be great to make a film where language disappears and time becomes the main channel.'"
Kate Connolly


"The (film), which is just shy of three hours, should be mind-crushingly boring, but it's getting rave reviews. In Germany, it's playing to packed theaters, much like "March of the Penguins" did last year in the States. (...) Without the benefit of a voice-over, the viewer is left to take in Gröning 's breathtaking images and to ponder what it's like to live a life of utter religious devotion."
Elise Soukup


international title: Into Great Silence
original title: Die Grosse Stille
country: Germany, Switzerland, France
sales agent: Global Screen GmbH
year: 2006
directed by: Philip Gröning
screenplay: Philip Gröning

main awards/selection

EFA 2006 Best European Documentary
Venice 2006 Horizons (selection)
Bavarian Film Award 2005 Best Documentary

German Film Critics Award 2005


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