German filmmaker Philip Gröning spent six months filming inside the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, and at 162 minutes his pictorial study of the Carthusian monks' still, quiet, deeply spiritual existence gradually enveloped me. Shot in natural light, the meditative images range from endless stone corridors cloaked in shadow to glittering snow-covered mountains, and the sequences of anonymous monks going silently about their work are dramatically punctuated by prolonged close-ups of the men, their faces shaded by the wisdom of their years and the power of their devotion. This 2005 feature is demanding to say the least, but its pulse-slowing rhythms leave a real sense of peace. In German with subtitles.
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