Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic 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. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    One of the transporting film experiences of this or any other year.
  3. 91
    You might not be able to picture yourself in such a life, but you'll be glad that it persists.
  4. 90
    I hesitate, given the early date and the project's modesty, to call Into Great Silence one of the best films of the year. I prefer to think of it as the antidote to all of the others.
  5. 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.
  6. 88
    Groening doesn't judge the monks' actions, nor does he tell us much about their reasons for choosing such a life. Yet the film brings us into their lives not as an observer but almost as a fellow hermit, making you realize how hard -- or easy -- it would be to commit yourself to such a life.
  7. This beautiful, unfolding film is an antidote to the high-velocity, maximum-volume world most of us find ourselves immersed in, offering a glimpse into a rigorously spiritual alternative. Its calmness, its reflection, is full of allure.
  8. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Groning's approach gives the viewer a rare chance to really listen to what water sounds like when it drips from a tin bowl, or the watch what patterns raindrops make when they fall on a shallow puddle -- purely sensual, cinematic experiences. In such moments we sense the point of view of a patient, sensitive filmmaker.
  9. 80
    This is a remarkable work of pure documentary cinema, and a mystical accomplishment on the order of Wagner's "Parsifal" or Tarkovsky's "The Sacrifice." That's hardly anybody's thing these days -- it's not often mine. But the effort, in this case, is worth it.
  10. A transcendent, transporting experience, a trance movie that casts a major league spell by going deeply into a monastic world that lives largely without words.
  11. 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.
  12. 80
    This 2005 feature is demanding to say the least, but its pulse-slowing rhythms leave a real sense of peace.
  13. 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.
  14. 75
    As a place to enter and meditate, Into Great Silence is imminently worthy, but as a documentary, it doesn't do enough to probe the meaning of the quotation Gröning returns to repeatedly: "Oh Lord, you have seduced me, and I was seduced."
  15. 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.
  16. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Natural light is used to euphoric effect, inevitably summoning the old masters, and Gröning's frames are balanced and symmetrical, in Renaissance-ready emulation of God's perfection.
  17. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    With a painterly eye and a deep appreciation for the hermetic world set apart from, rather than at odds with, modern life, helmer Philip Groening takes the viewer into their cloistered world.
  18. 67
    At once eerie, picaresque, evocative, and utterly alien to the reality most viewers inhabit, Into Great Silence is a daring and breathtakingly constructed documentary dream. So much so that the more restless among us may find themselves nodding off.
  19. The movie has a hushed sensual resonance, but it turns faith into an endurance test.
  20. 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.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 12 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. 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. Full Review »
  2. 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. Full Review »
  3. Leiris
    Mar 14, 2007
    One of the great film-going experiences of my life. Seeing this in a large audience was remarkable