“Anyone who does not give up all he has cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke 14:33
Definitely once in a lifetime documentary.
No top-of-the-line camera, no modulated voice for a narrator, no world-renowned actors to act–just fresh, unadulterated, camera-recorded documentary.
Philip Gröning, a German filmmaker, first asked permission in 1984 to document the daily lives of the monks of the Carthusian Order–one of the most ascetic and contemplative religious orders. He was told they were not yet ready and it wasn’t the right time then. He was told maybe in 10 or 13 years, and Gröning had almost forgotten about it.. 16 years after, he received a call that they are now ready.
Gröning spent 6 months in the monastery, and only brought some of his basic recording equipment. He lived just like how the monks are living as he recorded their daily lives. It really opened his eyes as to how these great men live their lives in the mountains.
The monks follow the rules of St. Bruno, a strict vow of poverty. The monks have their own daily chores and responsibilities, eat the fruits and vegetables from their own garden and bread they made on their own. They sleep using a pillow made out of hay straw, the same thing with their bed–filled with hay straw and just covered with a plain white cloth. They follow a strict rule of silence and prayer, as soon as they have been accepted in the order on probation, they will commit their lives to eternal prayer and joyful penitence.
The monks don’t talk to each other as they are in constant prayer even if they are working.. They have time once a week to speak with other monks or go out of the monastery to enjoy the beauty of the mountains.. So cute to hear the monks talk and catch up with each other–they are discussing about the paragraphs on the religious books they read the whole week and the situation of other monasteries!! It is so refreshing to see the younger ones go out and play in the snow and laugh!! Or the old monk feeding the cats in the monastery and trying to play with them using a teddy bear (funny and so uberly cute)!! To see these holy men who secluded their lives and offer prayers for the world enjoying themselves, really makes my heart flutter and to know they are still human somehow.. To know that if they can do it, and offer their lives in prayer, why can’t we spend a small time in our busy lives to pray?
These men who followed God’s calling and left behind whatever good future they might have had. Men who left all they have even their families forever, to follow God to inner holiness. To offer eternal prayers and joyful penitence for the whole world.
I wasn’t surprised to know that this documentary, though it lacks all the necessities of a good production, still emerged to be a good choice by film critics. It is raw, pure and was created just as how Gröning saw them with his own eyes.
For me, seeing this was a pure pleasure. Others may not appreciate it at first, but if you open your eyes, ears and mind to this film, you will understand how it was praised all over the world. It enlightened me as to how much I have been living my life in this fast-paced world.
Such a life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime thing.