Sunday, March 11, 2007

Opening Spiritual Space

German filmmaker Philip Groening's acclaimed film, Into Great Silence, has already been brought to the attention of readers of this blog.

In today's Boston Globe, there is an interesting interview with Groening. Two comments which caught my attention follow:

The film does not depict a monastery, but it transforms itself into a monastery, because a monastery is a place where, through the rhythm of time, which is very strict, and through [the monk's] confinement, the spiritual space is opened up for them.

Groening then explains why he chose not to film formal interviews with the monks:

If you give too much information about the monks, then something flips around and the audience gets curious to know more. And then they stop wondering what would make themselves come to a monastery. For the film to be a deeper experience, it's much more important that you sit there and ask yourself, "Why did this guy come [to the monastery]?" And by asking yourself that, you start to wonder: What would make me come there? And that's the moment when the film starts to really touch you -- when you come to your own questions. Because a monastery is a place where you encounter yourself and open up a spiritual space.

I have not yet seen the film. (It opens in Boston on Friday.) But I would appreciate hearing reactions from any who have already seen it.

Posted by Robert P. Imbelli

Posted by william collier
on March 11, 2007, 10:25 am
Unfortunately, the film will have very limited release over the next several months. There is a list of the venues and dates at the Zeitgeist Films website for the film (as well as info stating that the film will likely be released on DVD late in 2007):

Our parish book club is already making plans to see the film in a few months at the one venue available in our state. Until then we'll have to satisfy ourselves with the many positive reviews and stories, including this excellent article at the PBS website for the "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly":

The article contains the following comment from Kierkegaard about the necessity for monasteries in Christianity:

"The 'monastery' is an essential dialectical element in Christianity. We therefore need it out there like a navigation buoy at sea in order to see where we are, even though I myself would not enter it. But if there really is true Christianity in every generation, there must also be individuals who have this need…"

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