Wednesday, May 01, 2019

A Wonderful New Documentary on Mt Athos

Here is a beautifully filmed documentary about the monks of Mt Athos, which I am sure our readers will enjoy very much. Stylistically, it has a good deal in common with The Great Silence; there are a lot of still shots and scenes of the peninsula’s natural beauty, and it is, most appropriately, fairly quiet, with no musical soundtrack. The focus is on the lives of monks in the sketes and hermitages, rather than the great monasteries (the country monks, so to speak, rather than the city ones); around 50:00, we see a small group of them, including one who normally lives completely alone, come together to celebrate Christmas. At 1:07:30, there begins a stretch in which one of the monks receives priestly ordination at the Pantokratoros Monastery, of which his skete is a dependency. The ordination ritual is mixed with scenes of monks working in the kitchen to prepare the celebratory feast, since the day is that of the Transfiguration: a lovely reflection on the fact that in the life of the monastery, every service, no matter how humble or exalted, is rendered to and received by Christ. I shouldn’t like to spoil the scene, but definitely continue watching from there to the scene of the new priest-monk working back at his skete, which is incredibly moving.

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