Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 12 Ratings

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  • Summary: This documentary about an ascetic monastery is one of the most mesmerizing and poetic chronicles of spirituality ever created. More meditation than documentary, it's a rare, transformative theatrical experience for all. (Zeitgeist Films)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. The silence captured in this documentary -- a meditative look at life in the Carthusian monastery of the Grande Chartreuse in the French Alps -- may be the most eloquent you'll ever hear.
  2. 91
    You might not be able to picture yourself in such a life, but you'll be glad that it persists.
  3. A film of great spiritual intensity and haunting minimalism that enlarges your concepts of movies and of life. Like the monks of the Carthusian order, it distills something intoxicating through a style that's pure and rigorous.
  4. As we vicariously participate in their daily rituals, we find ourselves at the ground level of spiritual worship. It's hard to recall a similar documentary that brings viewers so palpably close to that sacred experience.
  5. 75
    The overwhelming silence is broken mainly by chanting and the ringing of the monastery bells. Call it life in the slow, slow, slow lane.
  6. 70
    Gröning makes us fully feel the rhythms of their lives, but for the same reasons that most of us couldn't or wouldn't last in such a stripped-down environment, the movie, at just shy of three hours, starts to feel oppressive after two.
  7. Reviewed by: Susan Dunne
    Try as I might, I could not love it, because as a piece of cinema, Into Great Silence would try the patience of a saint.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Leiris
    Mar 14, 2007
    One of the great film-going experiences of my life. Seeing this in a large audience was remarkable
  2. PatG.
    Mar 10, 2007
    I loved it. Fascinating. The beauty of the stone, the wood, the ancient architecture, the monks--and the silence--is stunning. Yes, nothing really happens, but it all feels very meaningful and potent. And I did not tire of it after two hours as some reviewers did. I went to a Saturday matinee, and the theater was packed! Apparently people do appreciate such things. I certainly do. Expand
  3. PatrickF.
    Jul 21, 2007
    Anyone who thinks that life is simply not worth considering without their TiVo/PDA/BMW/whatever needs to be dragged by their ear and tied down in front of the entirety of this meditation on simplicity, humanity, and connectedness to both well-aged tradition and ageless contemplation of the Absolute. Yes, the pacing can be euphemistically described as "contemplative," and it is quite lengthy (be in a good seat lest your neck and hindquarters protest mightily), but it practically forces the viewer to consider, often deeply, what is going on and why these people feel so compelled to live with such an intention. Touche, Michael Bay. Expand
  4. DavidLC
    May 1, 2007
    For those who have been and are curious about monastic life in its most severe application, this documentary is a MUST SEE! The films absolute clarity and maintaing the every-day routine of the Cicerstian Order of Monks is awesome and so true to the reality of the monk's life in the cloistered monastary. An ongoing thread in the film sums up quite precisely the "m.o." of what each individual man must "buy into" to be commited to the severity of the monastic life: "The Lord seduced me; and I was seduced!" One flaw of the documentary: way too long in duration...a fault of the director/producer. This film could have easily gotten its powerful message across in less than two hours. Expand