Paxtonvic’s Blog

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The Big Silence

Is a three part series on BBC 2 which follows five ordinary people who volunteer to go on a silent  retreat at St Beuno’s in North Wales. Benedictine  Fr Christopher Jamison, who took part in  ‘The Monastery’ series filmed at Worth Abbey two years ago, also leads this group.

Well, to be honest, I was transfixed by episode two which was on tonight. I was moved by how the days of silence effected the men and women and each in their own way caught a glimpse of God.

So  when I read this review just now from a web-site which dished it, I wondered what planet they were on….or which planet Im on….

Lacking the philosophical depth of far superior Peter Owen Jones vehicles, The Big Silence is both torturously boring and utterly deficient in providing any insight into the debatable merits of taking a vow of silence. Quite what producers saw in the concept will remain as big a mystery as the nature of God Himself.

Citing periods of self-enforced silence as “the core of the Christian tradition”, The Big Silence seeks to explore the concept that, by adhering to these principles, you somehow open the “gateway to knowing God and to knowing oneself”. It is evident from episode two of this three part series that there is still a great deal of work to be done if the likes of “successful entrepreneur” John are to suddenly erupt into a state of enlightenment.

Realising audiences would be unwilling to endure an hour of five people laying about a Jesuit retreat looking vacant whilst they attempt to stay mum, the participants are permitted to record their experiences via the staple video diary format and the occasional one-on-one interview where they confess inanities such as “the food is horrible” and “I’m really bored”. Quite what they were expecting is beyond us..

Picking a wide demographic ranging from a former Human Resources director to a restaurant owner, the only notable character of interest is Trisha, a mother of two children, who having lost her Catholic faith when her father died, is now enveloped in a personal crisis. Travelling to the retreat to try and rediscover her religious roots, Trisha does at least have an incentive in being there in the first place whereas, in everyone else’s case, the exercise functions as nothing more than a bizarre endurance test or, perhaps, the opportunity to be on the television.

The Big Silence seeks to explore the human condition but, despite all of its admirable aspirations, ends up sending you to sleep instead. However, the programme must have had some effect on me as, having watched it in stupefied silence, I did find myself praying to God that there will be never be another series of this dross. Amen.


Somehow I dont think that reviewer got it at all.





October 29, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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