Just as not everyone should or could be able to take on the monastic lifestyle, Into Great Silence may not be a documentary for those seeking answers. Questions of why, how, even what are eschewed in favor or immersion. The life of the Carthusian monk is either a peaceful and spiritual or solitary and hellish. It really depends on the attitude of the viewer. The quiet, ritual-heavy life of these monks has been distilled down to a manageable two-and-a-half hours. Philip Gröning’s camera documents their daily routines with great patience, the kind that comes from not only observing a subject, but living with the subject.
I greatly appreciate the watchful, calm, and touchingly poetic eye that Gröning employs. The film literally transforms itself from a documentation to a practice, one that evokes a meditative and spiritual transformation in the viewer, if that is what they are seeking. Personally, this is just the type of film I seek and adore. It captures the ineffable.