Via Media

Via Media

Into Great Silence

Blogged on here several times before, the German documentary about the Carthusian monastery – today, Sandro Magister writes about it.

By coincidence, at the same time as the film is coming to the Italian theatres, there is growing attention to Carthusian monasticism in Italy and in the world.

On Sunday, March 26, in Argentina, the popular newspaper “Clarin” published an extensive survey, entitled “A solas con Dios,” of the only Carthusian monastery in the country, at Deán Funes, not far from Córdoba. Its author, Leonardo Torresi, wrote it on a scale and in a style not unlike the cinematographic style of “Die Grosse Stille.”


In Italy, "Avvenire," the newspaper of the bishops’ conference, published an editorial by Fabio Falzone on Gröning’s film, on March 22. And on March 29, it dedicated two full pages of its cultural section to the film, with commentaries from theologian Pierangelo Sequeri and poet Roberto Mussapi. Other newspapers showed similar interest.

The film’s website

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Bill Logan

posted March 30, 2006 at 2:13 pm

To see the trailer for the film, you’ll need to go to the German portion of the film’s website. Or click here for the high-bandwidth version of the trailer.
I’ve also now seen the book by Nancy Klein Maguire, “An Infinity of Little Hours,” in the local Borders.

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Rich Leonardi

posted March 30, 2006 at 2:20 pm

My family visited Our Lady of Victory – St. Joseph in downtown Rochester last weekend. (Historical side bar: St. John Neumann was the parish priest at St. Joseph for a short time.) The celebrant, Fr. Antinarelli, focused his homily on the austere Lenten practices of the Carthusians, which begin in September. It certainly made an impression on my kids, who were probably thinking that giving up desert for six weeks isn’t so bad.

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Tony A

posted March 30, 2006 at 2:33 pm

Simple question: anybody know when it is coming to the United States? I’ve been waiting for months and no word!

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Old Zhou

posted March 30, 2006 at 2:43 pm

You will be able to get it from Amazon in Germany, but it is not released until May. Price is 20 Euros (about $25 US), plus DHL shipping.

Die große Stille
Amazon-Preis: EUR 19,99
Noch nicht veröffentlicht.
Voraussichtlicher Erscheinungstermin: 12. Mai 2006.
Sie können den Titel jedoch bereits vorbestellen und wir verschicken ihn, sobald er verfügbar ist.

Also, do not look for the literal translation of the German title in English (“The Great Silence”), as this is the title of a Sergio Corbucci “spaghetti Western” from 1968. This film is avaliable from Amazon in the US.

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Bill Logan

posted March 30, 2006 at 2:48 pm

It played at Sundance, and it’s still going to play at other film festivals, so it might be some time before it hits wide release in the U.S. It’s going to play at the San Francisco International Film Festival if you’re in the area.

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posted March 30, 2006 at 2:55 pm

I’ve read “An Infinity of Little Hours,” and found it beautiful and heartbreaking, although I still haven’t quite figured out why I found it heartbreaking…
As for the documentary coming to the states, the only hint I have heard of this came from a video podcast interview of Philip Gröning during Cannes — short and vague.
I sure would love to see it, though.

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Bill Logan

posted March 30, 2006 at 3:07 pm

FYI, if you’re super anxious and you decide to get the German DVD, you will likely need to have an all-regions DVD player to be able to play it. You certainly don’t want to find out that you can’t play the DVD after you’ve spent the money for it. You will probably also have a problem watching it since it’s going to be in the PAL video format and not NTSC (unless you’ve got a multi-systems TV).

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Ray from MN

posted March 30, 2006 at 7:36 pm

Would you expect that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will let them show the film at that “International Film Festival?”
People might pray during it, and they certainly wouldn’t permit public prayer. Maybe the Board will require that they cut out all the “holy bits.”

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posted March 30, 2006 at 7:52 pm

Dear Friends, Most people aren’t aware that St. Bruno founded a charterhouse in Serra San Bruno, Calabria (the deep Italian south). His remains are there. The charterhouse has a website: Although it’s in Italian one can view photos and videos there.

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Dennis Martin

posted March 30, 2006 at 9:47 pm

Parkminster in England and the Grande Chartreuse also have good web sites.
But if you Google chartreux alone you’ll get hundreds of hits for the chartreux breed of cat. The Carthusians in Spain were instrumental in keeping an Andalusian breed of horses going in the 18thc when other breeders moved on to different breeds, so Googling “Carthusian” will get you both cats and horses.

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posted March 30, 2006 at 9:59 pm

I’d be a bit cautious about the claims of growing interest. The Carthusians have always fascinated people (I compared them to the Amish in my own study) because they choose to remain strictly cloistered and therefore attracted a lot of the curious but fewer postulants and only a fraction of the postulants enter the novitiate. The film will certainly stimulate a lot of interest but the Carthusian life is the Carthusian life and few truly have a calling to it. A few years back the houses in Europe went through something of a consolidation, though perhaps there are more vocations in Argentina or Brazil. This could change again–the order had 200 houses on the eve of the Reformation but all of them were at least temporarily closed at one point or another during the Reformation, French Revolution, the Turkish invasions of the 1400s and 1500s and the Liberal government in Spain during the early 1800s and so forth. The handful that survive are re-foundations.
So things have been at a low ebb before and the time might be coming for growth but who knows? The film creates broader interest and fascination but I’m not sure it will do more than that. I hope I’m badly mistaken!

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Patrick O'Carroll

posted March 31, 2006 at 7:59 pm

The Carthusians are here in the USA too, in Vermont I believe. They have about 16 monks.
Carthusians are unique in the monastic world for many reasons, but one of the most interesting is that in addition to the usuall class distinctions of choir monks and lay brothers (conversi), there is a third class called Donated Brothers. These are monks of the Order who are permitted to enter beyond the usuall cut off ages of perhaps 35-40. Some were businessmen, others are widowers, others are those who just found their calling late in life. The Donated Brothers are just that…they donate their time and the rest of their lives living a somewhat relaxed version of the Carthusian Rule in the monastery, while the full-fledged perpetually professed choir and lay brothers live a much stricted regimen.
Of perhaps 390 Carthusian monks in the world, there are probably less than 50 Donated members. This category was never large.
Before Vatican II, there were almost 600 Carthusians, and still less that 100 Donated members.
It is very hopeful that the movie “Into Great Silence” was recieved so well in Germany. There is 1 Carthusian monastery in Germany. Perhaps it will recieve more vocations in light of the movie. Hopefully other monasteries (Carthusians call them “Charterhouses” ) will benefit also.
The Carthusians recently founded new monasteries in Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea. There are about 19 houses world wide. Hopefully there will be additional foundations in Africa, and perhaps Mexico, India etc. And with God’s blessing, perhaps more foundations in Europe. I’ve always been surprised there are no Carthusian monasteries in Poland. The orders should do very wll there with vocations.

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