i mentioned that i might have an issue with concentration. it really takes me a while to quiet the constant chatter that is going on in my brain at any given moment and focus in on what needs my undivided attention.
so to sit through (and not fall asleep) an almost three hour documentary about french monks who toil daily in complete silence, well, it was a challenge. the viewing was almost like meditation. the opening scene is a tight profile of a monk's head, resting on his clasped hands...he is deep in prayer. the scene went on, uninterrupted, un-cut for nearly three minutes. every sound in the theatre was magnified. the scuttle of hands in popcorn bags, the crunching of the popcorn, coughing, sniffing, shoe shuffling. apparently it took all of the patrons to settle into the silence.
scene after languishing scene...red flickering candle, raindrops in ponds, grass blowing in the breeze, lyrics of latin chants, snow falling onto the camera lens, celery stalks lying on the butcher block waiting to be chopped, boxes of ivory buttons.
when i had seen the preview for this movie, i had thought there would be a narrator -- a voice to explain the mysterious life these men had chosen for themselves, but no. complete silence, save for perhaps 50 words spoken in french on the monk's one day they are allowed to speak -- sunday.
their heads were so often bowed in prayer, it was unimaginable to me. i am not a religious person, but just the thought of immersing myself in deep thought (on any topic) for hours upon hours seemed like a insidious form of torture. however, witnessing this cloistered life in such poetic, voyeuristic detail was amazing.
i felt a sense of calm when i left the theatre. others, who shall remain unnamed, felt refreshed--as though they had taken a 3 hour nap.