Into Great Silence

I just finished watching Into Great Silence. It was a Christmas gift, and I had no particular expectations. It's really, really excellent, maybe one of my favorite films now. It seems strange to say it, but I feel like in some ways this is the film that 2001: A Space Odyssey could have been, maybe should have been. And I mean that not just in style and tone, but also in theme, and in the way they're related. It's odd in a way that 2001 would be the thing that I think of after watching this, but having thought of it, it seems true somehow.

(UPDATE: Roger Ebert also connects Into Great Silence with 2001. At least I'm in good company.)

It's also striking how similar the life of the monks and its feeling is to the feeling of Zen practice, particularly during sesshin. But of course, we only do that for a week at a time... Anyway, the film is excellent and I highly recommend it.

From Norman Fischer:

Beautiful sunny day, dry, golden Marin hills, putting Gil’s pine box in the ground, saying a prayer. Funny, Gil was a Brooklyn Jewish boy, quick, intelligent, witty, shifty. Julie and her family are Minnesota Norwegians, without a hint of irony, stoic and upright. They’re the ones left now. Eulogies in the ceremony were very good. I didn’t know Gil had been so active in eye care in India for leprosy-sufferers. And that he’d seen from that experience that poverty-stricken Indian villagers, even when ill, are happier than wealthy educated San Franciscans. That was when he’d begun his spiritual practice. At the reception someone told me that whenever people went to visit Gil, close to the end, when the ALS had pretty much taken everything away, including the power of speech, Gil would always mutter something as the person left. It was impossible to tell what he was saying but the person told me that finally she had figured out what it was: that Gil was saying, to each and every person who’d come, “I love you.”

for maximum 2001-ness they

Submitted by Seth Tisue on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:13.

for maximum 2001-ness they should have filmed it here:


Submitted by matt on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 16:47.

That looks absolutely amazing. I'd love to visit someday.