In our race towards modernity, amidst all the technological innovation and the rapid growth of our cities, silence is now quickly passing into legend. Beginning with an ode to John Cage‘s seminal silent composition 4’33“, the sights and sounds of this film delicately interweave with silence to create a contemplative and cinematic experience that works its way through frantic minds and into the quiet spaces of hearts. As much a work of devotion as it is a documentary, IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE is a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, with sound, and the impact of noise on our lives. (rottentomatoes)
“The etymological roots of the word silence
are somewhat contested. There are two words
in particular that people go back to. There’s the Gothic term ana-silan, and then</i> desinere. One of them has to do with
the wind dying down and the other has to do with
a kind of stopping of motion. They’re both to do with an
interruption, not just of sound, but the roots of silence
are also to do with the interruption of our own… The imposition of our own egos
on the world.” GEORGE PROCHNIK
timespace coordinates: 1888 Transylvania
Van Helsing is a 2004 American dark fantasy action comedy written and directed by Stephen Sommers. It stars Hugh Jackman as vigilante monster hunter Van Helsing, and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious. The film is an homage and tribute to the Universal Horror Monster films from the 1930s and ’40s (also produced by Universal Studios which were in turn based on novels by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley), of which Sommers is a fan.
The eponymous character was inspired by the Dutch vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing from Irish author Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. The film includes a number of monsters such as Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and werewolves in a way similar to the multi-monster movies that Universal produced in the 1940s, such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.
Sommers expanded the story of Van Helsing in two direct spin-offs:
- The animated prequel titled Van Helsing: The London Assignment takes place before the main events of the film, focusing on Van Helsing’s mission to try to stop Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from terrorizing London.
- There is also a one-shot comic book, published by Dark Horse Comics, titled Van Helsing: From Beneath the Rue Morgue, that follows Van Helsing on a self-contained adventure that occurs during the events of the film, just after the death of Jekyll/Hyde in Paris but before Van Helsing returned to Rome. In the adventure, Van Helsing deals with Doctor Moreau and his hybrid mutants.
In May 2012, Universal Pictures announced that they would be rebooting the film with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci as a two-year deal to produce a modern reimagining and Tom Cruise to star as the title character and also produce the film. Rupert Sanders is in talks to direct the film. Orci spoken to IGN that he has hinted that both The Mummy and Van Helsing reboots will have a shared universe. On November 11, 2015, Variety reports that Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer will write the reboot, but Cruise left the film. However, in 2016, Cruise signed back on to star in Kurtzman’s The Mummy, which was released in theaters on June 9, 2017. (wiki)
spacetime coordinates: 1996, Algeria, Abbey of Our Lady of Atlas
“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”
Of Gods and Men is a 2010 French drama film directed by Xavier Beauvois, starring Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale. Its original French language title is Des hommes et des dieux, which means “Of Men and of Gods” and refers to a verse from the Bible shown at the beginning of the film. It centers on the monastery of Tibhirine, where nine Trappist monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria, until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War.Largely a tale of a peaceful situation between local Christians and Muslims before becoming a lethal one due to external forces, the screenplay focuses on the preceding chain of events in decay of government, expansion of terrorism, and the monks’ confrontation with both the terrorists and the government authorities that led up to their deaths. Principal photography took place at an abandoned monastery in Azrou, Morocco. (wiki)
spacetime coordinates: 2002 – 2003, Grande Chartreuse, Chartreuse MountainsInto Great Silence (German: Die große Stille) is a documentary film directed by Philip Gröning that was released in 2005. It is an intimate portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse, a monastery high in the French Alps.
The idea for the film was proposed to the monks in 1984, but the Carthusians said they wanted time to think about it. They responded to Gröning 16 years later to say they were willing to permit him to shoot the movie if he was still interested. Gröning then came alone to live at the monastery, where no visitors were ordinarily allowed, for a total of six months. He filmed and recorded on his own, using no artificial light. Gröning then spent two and a half years editing the film. The final cut contains neither spoken commentary nor added sound effects. It consists of images and sounds that depict the rhythm of monastic life, with occasional intertitles displaying selections from Holy Scripture. (wiki)
spacetime coordinates: Alexandria, Egypt. 391 – 415 A.D.
Agora (Spanish: Ágora) is a 2009 Spanish English-language historical drama film directed by Alejandro Amenábar and written by Amenábar and Mateo Gil. The biopic stars Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th-century Roman Egypt, The story uses historical fiction to highlight the relationship between religion and science at the time amidst the decline of Greco-Roman polytheism and the Christianization of the Roman Empire. The set used in the film is meticulously historically authentic, showing a blend of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian architectural styles that would have been fitting to the time period, but the costumes are anachronistic. Hypatia’s age in the film is also inaccurate; most scholars believe she would have been in her 50s or 60s at the time of her death, but the film portrays her as a young woman. Irene A. Artemi, a doctor of theology at Athens University, states that “The movie—albeit seemingly not turning against the Christian religion—is in fact portraying the Christians as fundamentalist, obscurantist, ignorant and fanatic”. Similarly, the atheist historian Tim O’Neil remarks: “Over and over again, elements are added to the story that are not in the source material: the destruction of the library, the stoning of the Jews in the theatre, Cyril condemning Hypatia’s teaching because she is a woman, the heliocentric “breakthrough” and Hypatia’s supposed irreligiosity.” (read more: Historical accuracy)
Cyril of Alexandria
spacetime coordinates: 1846 – 1862 New York City
Gangs of New York is a 2002 American epic period drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. It was inspired by Herbert Asbury‘s 1928 non-fiction book, The Gangs of New York.
The film is set in 1863 and follows gang leader William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) in his roles as crime boss and political kingmaker under the helm of “Boss” Tweed (Jim Broadbent). The film culminates in a violent confrontation between Cutting and his mob with the protagonist Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his allies, which prefaces the real-life New York Draft Riots of 1863.
The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch directed by David Bickerstaff features the exhibition ‘Jheronimus Bosch – Visions of Genius’ at Het Noordbrabants Museum in the southern Netherlands, which brought the majority of Bosch’s paintings and drawings together for the first time to his home town of Den Bosch.