"Into the Silence"

A French movie shot without almost any dialog.


I’ve had the idea of making a movie about silence for neigh on three or four years now.

There are too many freaking people in the world today. If you don’t do something the moment you think about it, someone else comes up with the idea 5 minutes later.

Someone thought of doing silent movies about one hundred years ago, and I think pulled it off rather succesfully.

I just caught this today at the arthouse theater in downtown Sac.

Into Great Silence, aka Die Große Stille.

I liked the idea of the movie. Film a documentary about extreme ascetic monks (in the Grand Chartreuse monastery). Do not add anything to it as far as sounds and music and dialogue and voice overs and your own opinion. Just record the stuff they do.

It’s about 2:45 long, and honestly I think about 45 minutes could have been cut without losing any real content. But then you would be left with a solid, interesting two hours. All the stuff that you cut would be when the filmmaker was sitting around filming flowers blowing in the breeze or staring into the sky (I shit you not, for 30 seconds at a time). I didn’t like 45 minutes of that shit in Thin Red Line, and I don’t care for it here. I get that we are supposed to appreciate the solitude and everything, and there’s plenty of it.

Also, there were scenes with clearly non-monks walking around like on a lazy Sunday or something, which as far as I could tell was nowhere near the monastery and they had no interactions at all. WTF? Also, don’t need 10 minutes of staring at a blank black screen with a very faint single red light (a flickering candle) from about 100 meters away. It isn’t poignant, it’s a waste of time. Oh, and we don’t need to switch camera filters every few minutes or so like this is the Blair Witch Project.

Also: I don’t need to see pithy one-sentence paraphrases of What Jesus Would Say if he were here. It didn’t help that they were in French, with a German subtitle below, with a small scrolling English subtitle in the margin below that.

So you cut all that shit out and you get an amazing hour of incredible quietude, solace, and natural sounds. Monks doing their stuff, ranging from tending garden to feeding cars to praying to reading to chanting/singing to eating to inducting some n00bs to their Sunday walks (when they are allowed to talk). And there’s about a 5 minute interview with the blind monk where he talks about happiness (it’s near the end). It was also cool to see a monk using a laptop. :)

I give this movie 3 berets out of 5: for being way too long and filling all that extra time with tripe. If a new version comes out without that extra BS, it would be a solid 4+ out of 5.