Silentium – From Life in the Convent
Distributed by Kimstim, 417 13th Street #2, Brooklyn, New York 11215
Produced by Sobo Swobodnik
Directed by Sobo Swobodnik
DVD, color and b&w, 84 min.
High School - General Adult
Reviewed by Alexander Rolfe, Technical Services Librarian, George Fox University, Newberg, OR
Date Entered: 2/8/2018
This film takes you inside the once-populous convent of Habsthal, Germany, which is now down to four nuns and a priest. All but one are aged.
The director sought to create a mood, or produce contemplation, rather than convey information. The nuns speak to the camera only rarely. There are long, long shots of them reading, or working silently. The most exciting part is about an hour in, when they play a board game. It is indeed thought-provoking, but more thoughts would have been provoked had we heard more from the nuns, or had some narration to make the director’s views and intentions explicit.
The goal seems to be a direct, almost immersive experience of life in the convent. It’s strange then that so much of it was shot in faintly colored black and white. That made the faces corpse-like and added an air of unreality; simple natural color would been more immediate and real, since these nuns live in the same world we do—just differently.
The educational value is slim, but it does answer the question of what life is like in a small German convent in the 21st century. German with English subtitles.