Friday, 9 January 2009

933 - Into Great Silence



I saw the film (trailer here) last night at the Star and Shadow. The good people at the cinema handed out free soup before the showing - chockful of Jerusalem artichokes, with whole peppers and spices I couldn't identify. Third time of watching this open hearted documentary, which catches, in light beautiful, the life of a community of Carthusian monks.

The first time I watched the film was with E, in 2007, at the Tyneside. "You didn't tell me it was a subtitled film!" she protested. "It's about silent monks - " I defended. "There are no subtitles!"

(To sell Whitley to film buffs, the town is within forty minutes, by public transport, of two multiplexes and three arthouse cinemas - four, if you count the Playhouse which, until it shut for refurbishment, played Brit flicks alongside summer blockbusters, between its caberets, comedy and Am Dram.)

Into great silence. Zeitgeist films, blurbing the movie, wrote:

One of the most mesmerizing and poetic chronicles of spirituality ever created, ... [it] dissolves the border between screen and audience with a total immersion into the hush of monastic life. More meditation than documentary, it’s a rare, transformative theatrical experience for all.

For me this has been the case.

But I come back to Whitley to a different kind of silence. Two more big-name shops are going from the High Street: Marks and Spencers, and (sadder) the local family firm T & G Allan.

Now that the Co-Op has downsized, and Woolworths, shop-soiled, be-shuttered itself, the four empty premises, all between St Paul's church and Fitzgerald's, stand like dead front teeth in a broken gob.

"Bring in the artists!" I said, talking about it at the Star and Shadow. I meant, let's be defiant, rave at the wake, find new life and foster it. Clara, who heard this, was right to press: "People have lost their jobs. They are really, really desperate." Someone else said, "The shops sold commercial tat." (And he was right, too.)

Into great silence. Grief before new life.

3 comments:

Andy said...

Egads! Jerusalem Artichokes! Quick, open the window.

Andy said...

Actually, not artichokes at all, but root vegetables that are related to sunflowers.

hmm.

Steve Lancaster said...

Too late. Window blown open. (Also knocked the wing off a passing wind turbine.)

Sunflowers, eh? Who'd have thought? :)