< Hermitary - Films - Films about hermits, eremitism, solitude, silence, simplicity

Films about hermits

Here are films of interest about hermits and eremitism, plus films about solitude, silence, and simplicity. They are presented from most recently released to oldest. Trailers or equivalent are embedded when available. The presence of a film here does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation, though all the films present hermits and the related topics in a positive and sympathetic way.

Biographical films (wilderness)
Feature films (fiction)
Films about solitude, silence, simplicity

Biographical films (religious) - 19 films

Summoning the Recluse (China, 2017)

Distributed by Aeon Videos; producer: Ellen Xu; director of photography: Max Duncan
from the web site:
"Why some Chinese millennials are taking up the hermit’s life in the mountains Over the past several decades, China has transformed from a largely poor and rural farming nation to a world power with massive economic heft and a rapidly growing urban middle class. While access to the global economy offers the emerging generation of young adults unprecedented access to material goods and a wide range of lifestyles, consumerism has come at a cost for some Chinese millennials who are seeking something beyond money. With a contemplative style that evokes its subject, the Beijing-based filmmaker Ellen Xu’s Summoning the Recluse introduces several young Chinese urbanites who are embarking on spiritual quests. Through a hermit’s lifestyle that draws on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian traditions – either for a brief respite from modern life, or for the long haul – they focus on studying religion, meditation and connecting with nature, seeking meaning in what they describe as an 'ancient way of life'."

The Cloud of Unknowing (Ireland, 2017)

Director/producer: Mike Hannon
from the director:
The Cloud of Unknowing is a nineteen minute documentary on a modern day hermit who dedicated his life to the mystical tradition of contemplative prayer. Rodney Thompson, a Cork man, spent almost thirty years in an isolated cottage in Connemara in pursuit of solitude, silence and prayer. Without electricity or running water, Mr Thompson lived simply, prayed ceaselessly and welcomed visitors to his hermitage close to Roundstone, Galway."

Hermits (China, 2015)

Director: Shiping He; co-director: Peng Fu; produced by Emei Movie Channel.
from the website:
"25 years ago, American author Bill Porter (a.k.a. Red Pine) went to the Zhongnan Mountains to seek out modern Chinese hermits. His resulting book, Road to Heaven, was a touchstone for many westerners wondering what remained of Buddhist and Daoist asceticism in China. Now, for the first time, Bill Porter revisits Zhongnan to seek out those who seek from within, living quiet lives of deep devotion in some of the world's most stunning locales."
(Video presented on Dutch television; Mandarin with Dutch subtitles)

Surviving in the Siberian Wilderness for 70 Years (USA, 2013)

produced by Vice.
from the website:
"In 1936, a family of Russian Old Believers journeyed deep into Siberia's vast taiga to escape persecution and protect their way of life. The Lykovs eventually settled in the Sayan Mountains, 160 miles from any other sign of civilization. In 1944, Agafia Lykov was born into this wilderness. Today, she is the last surviving Lykov, remaining steadfast in her seclusion. In this episode of Far Out, the VICE crew travels to Agafia to learn about her taiga lifestyle and the encroaching influence of the outside world."

Agafia's Story: The Life of a Siberian Hermit (Russia, 2014)

Part 1 of 2:

Part 2 of 2:

Produced by RT.
"In 1978, in the remote Russian Republic of Khakassia, Siberia, a group of geologists discovered a family of Old Believers, the Lykovs. They had fled to the wilderness to avoid religious persecution, first from the Orthodox Church and then from the Soviets. Now RTD’s film crew goes deep into the taiga to meet the only remaining member of the family, Agafia. She is almost 70 years old and is in desperate need of a helper. The film crew also interviews Erofey Sedov, a former drilling geologist. He was one of those who discovered the Lykovs and told the world about them. He got to know them well and is now ready to share information that will make us see the familiar story of this family of hermits in a different light."

Upon This Rock (USA, 2013)

produced by Maboroshi Productions
"An examination of monastery life around a one hundred thirty foot rock out-crop on which a Georgian monk hopes to live and become the first stylite there in six hundred years. This short documentary was shot during a research trip to the Republic of Georgia for "The Stylite", a feature length experimental documentary still in development."
Note: a 21-minute feature is available at cost: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/uponthisrock

Varanasi, India: Beyond (India, 2012)

Director: Cale Glendening; photographer, Joey L.
from the website:
"Beyond" is an exclusive documentary featuring photographer Joey L. Set in Varanasi, India. The documentary by filmmaker Cale Glendening follows Joey and his assistant Ryan as they complete their latest photo series- "Holy Men." Almost every major religion breeds ascetics: wandering monks who have renounced all earthly possessions, dedicating their lives to the pursuit of spiritual liberation.Their reality is dictated only by the mind, not material objects. Even death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion.

De Kluizenaar van Neerijnen - The Hermit of Neerijnen (Netherlands, 2012)

Produced by Albertine Piels
from the Vimeo website (translated from Dutch):
"Joseph van den Berg was a famous Dutch puppeteer who performed all over the world, but now lives as a hermit in the village of Neerijnen. In 1989 he felt called by God to embraces the Orthodox faith. He lives in a hut within the town. [Film in Dutch, no subtitles.]

Fr. Lazarus El-Anthony - Monk's Life (US, 2011)

Season 1

Season 2

produced by Coptic Youth Channel/Christian Youth Channel.
"Fr. Lazarus is an Australian-born Coptic Orthodox monk living as a hermit in a cave near St. Anthony's Monastery in Egypt for nearly two decades. See also:

The Last Anchorite (UK, 2009)

part 1 of 2

part 2 of 2

produced by Reigiusz Sowa.
from the producer:
"Best Documentary Transmitter Award winner at the Crystal Palace International Film Festival; a truly remarkable story of Father Lazarus El Anthony, university lecturer, Marxist who abandoned his life in Australia and went in search of God and freedom. His pilgrimage eventually brought him to a life of a Christian Coptic monk and life in solitude on the Al-Qalzam Mountain (Egypt) in the pursuit of what the Desert Fathers called apatheia, holy stillness."

Archimandrite (Poland/Belarus, 2010)

produced by BelSat TV (Belarus) in association with Telewizja Polska S.A. (Polish Public Television); this embed Polish with English subtitles.
description: Archimandrite Gabriel -- an Orthodox monk from the Podlasie province in Poland -- is the founder and sole inhabitant of the Kudak grove hermitage by river Narew. During his first few years there, he lived and prayed in a wagon house, without electricity, running water, or contact with the outside world. After five years, thanks to the help of people of Orthodox faith from local villages, the grove saw the rise of a wooden church, a dormitory for monks, and outbuildings. Pilgrims are drawn to the place by archimandrite Gabriel's personality: he can find common ground with anyone, he grants spiritual advice, heals with herbs, and keeps bees. When necessary, he rolls up his sleeves and works on building the hermitage right alongside everyone else. The archimandrite's biggest concern is finding a successor. Prospective monks don't last long in the hermitage, however. They can't stand the lack of access to civilization, common comforts, and contact with their peers.

Extreme Pilgrim - Ascetic Chritianity (Part 3:Egypt) (UK, 2008)

produced by BBC-Television; featuring Peter Owens-Jones.
British Anglican vicar Peter Jones is in quest of a "spiritual enlightenment" lost in the West. He visits China to investigate Buddhism and travels with sadhus in India. In the last episode he follows the path of St. Antony the hermit of Egypt, including a cave solitude of 21 days.

The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun (Denmark,2 007)

director and cinematographer, Pernille Rose Grønkjær; produced by Sigrid Dyekjær
from the website (no longer available):
The story of Mr. Vig, a well educated 86 year-old bachelor, and Sister Amvrosija, a Russian nun, who by chance, or destiny, becomes part of his life. Mr. Jørgen Laursen Vig is owner of a worn down castle situated in the Danish country side. All his life Mr. Vig has dreamed of turning his castle into a Russian orthodox monastery.

Amongst White Clouds(Canada,2005)

produced by Edward Burger & Cosmos Pictures.
from the website www.amongstwhiteclouds.com, no longer available:
The lives of zealot students, gaunt ascetics and wise masters living in isolated hermitages dotting the peaks and valleys of China’s Zhongnan Mountain range. The Zhongnan Mountains have been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor, some five thousand years ago. Many of China's most realized Buddhist masters attained enlightenment in this very range!

Into Great Silence (Germany, 2007)

produced by Philip Groening and Zeitgeist Films.
from the producer:
The Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the legendary Carthusian Order, is based in the French Alps. "Into Great Silence" will be the first film ever about life inside the Grande Chartreuse. ... Silence. Repetition. Rhythm. The film is an austere, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material.

Flower of the Desert (Germany, 2004)

produced by Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN)
from the CRTN website:
This short documentary recounts the life of St Anthony and the breed of men that followed in his footsteps till today– seeking the wealth of God through the physical, emotional and psychological poverty of solitude.

Selling God's House - Hermit Nun (Ireland, 2003)

produced by RTE One, Ireland National Radio and Television
Sr. Irene Gibson attempted to establish a hermitage for nuns on the west coast of Ireland but could not attract postulants and has remained in solitude for over ten years. Sr. Irene adheres to Catholic Traditionalist theology and ritual. Related video of new hermitage in Athlone, Co. Westmead.

Cave in the Snow (Australia, 2002)

produced by Liz Thompson and Ellenor Cox
from the Tensin Palmo website:
Inspired by the international best-selling biography "Cave in the Snow" by Vicki McKenzie, this is the documentary of the extraordinary life of Venerable Tenzin Palmo.
from the production website: In 1976 she isolated herself for twelve years in a remote Himalayan cave to deepen her meditation practice. Here she faced unimaginable cold, wild animals, near-starvation and avalanches; grew her own food and slept in a traditional wooden meditation box, three-feet-square - she never lay down.

Freedom or Madness (Australia,1998)

produced by Peter Thomas and Albert Sreet Productions/ABC TV (Australia). Video unavailable.
from the ABC TV website:
[This documentary] follows six very different Australians who've all chosen to live lives of complete seclusion, free from obligations - withdrawn from society (yet in some cases still living in urban environs), exploring life in depth. We meet people like Vyn Bailey, a hermit and yogin - Father Ronan, a priest and anchorite - and Pravrajika Ajayaprana, a Hindu nun.


PAGE 2: Biographical films (wilderness) - PAGE 3: Feature films (Fiction)
PAGE 4: Films about solitude