Modern documentaries usually rely on politics or social issues for cinematic inspiration, which is why “Into Great Silence” is such a surprising accomplishment. The movie has little dialogue and no significant action – unless you consider singing Gregorian chants significant action. “Into Great Silence” is the result of filmmaker Philip Groning’s six-month stay with a group of monks in a remote monastery in the French Alps. He turned it into one of the most spiritually challenging films I can think of in recent years and that is why “Into Great Silence” is my DVD pick for this week.

Fellow blogger Donna wrote up a nice review of the movie for Idol Chatter earlier this year, and I agree with her that it will take patience, concentration, and a little discipline to sit for most people to sit through the almost three hours of the footage in which the audience is given rare access to the religious practices of this particular sect of monks. Without the usual interview or archival footage most documentaries depend on to tell a story, “Into Great Silence” relies instead on attention to miniscule details as it traces a deeply reflective, minimalist lifestyle that is completely foreign to many of us.
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