A few years ago the documentary film Into Great Silence, which chronicled the lives of the Carthusian Monks of the Grande Chartreuse, mesmerized audiences with its rhythm of prayer and silence. In a world increasingly noise and instrumentation-laden, the silence spoke volumes to audiences.
which follows the lives of Carmelite nuns in England, seems to be equally as engaging, if this review is any indication.
As No Greater Love begins we are led into the Carmelite Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Notting Hill, which houses these devout women and clarifies their lifestyle from the outset.
Consequently my immediate expectations assumed a story of naïve, well-meaning and dedicated nuns whom I would respect and admire, but whose narrative might prove slightly tedious after half an hour.
As the film progressed and introduced Sister Christine Marie I began to question the very notions underpinning my preconceptions. I am of the Shuffle Generation – constantly craving to be plugged in to some sort of noise, whatever sound most gratifies me for the present moment – essentially anything but the tedium of silence. So naturally I did not look forward to this film’s predominantly silent soundtrack.
The director Michael Whyte paints an interesting picture of contrasts and the unexpected. We see surprisingly strong women giggling away as they saw heavy branches in the Monastery’s garden and you can’t help but smile at an elderly nun’s equal dexterity with her knitting needles as well as her Apple Mac. Dutiful ordering and unloading of the weekly Sainsbury’s online shop is also punctuated by intense prayer and worship.
But exposing these women’s superficial adaptations to modern technology loses its intrigue after some time and does not compare with the gravity of their profound deviance from modern mentalities. Sister Christine introduces a rather beautiful and liberating idea through her appraisal of silence as the shepherd of the human mind, guiding our intellect as to what is truly worthy of thought.
The website is very beautiful. Can’t wait to see it.
Deacon Greg found the trailer, which is too wide for embedding here.