"The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper … " (1 Kings 19: 11-13)
In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Grö ning approached the Carthusian monks, considered the Catholic Church's strictest order, for permission to film their monastic lifestyle. They responded that they were not ready for him.
In 2000, almost two decades later, Grö ning got the phone call he'd been waiting for. He was finally welcome to come. And Into Great Silence was born.
Grö ning lived as one of the monks for six months in the picturesque Grande Chartreuse monastery, a medieval enclave built into the side of a hill beneath the shadow of the monolithic French Alps outside Grenoble. He carted his own gear, shot his own footage, recorded his own sound—all without the benefit of assistance or supplementary lighting. Sometimes his camera captures exquisite clarity; other times it registers barely enough light to decipher an image—and yet, regardless, each and every shot is magnificent.
This film isn't interested in merely recording the mundane activities of monastic life, but rather immersing the viewer so completely that the barrier between projection and reception vanishes completely. Never has a camera been more intimate or observed as closely. It becomes a thing metaphysical rather than mechanical, trading the natural for the supernatural. ...1