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 (religious) - 19 films
The Forest In Me (UK, 2014+)
produced by Rebecca Marshall; feature documentary currently in pre-production / 2015.
from the website:
"A 70 year old woman has spent all her life surviving in isolation in the vast Siberian forest. Time, faith and identity are delicately explored within this snowbound dreamscape, cut off from the world of mass communication.
Agafya Lykov, a seventy year old woman, lives alone in an isolated forest valley in the Russian republic of Khakassia, in the in the birch-wood hut where she was born, 150km away from the nearest village. From her birth in 1943 until 1978, she didn’t see another human outside of her family, of whom the last member died in 1988. She continues to survive from the land through extreme Siberian seasons, with winter temperatures dropping to -65F.
Alone in the taiga, Agafya draws. She draws pictures of animals and people from her life and named her cat ‘Little Drawing.’ The film will explore through these drawings her imagination, dreams and visions and asks what her mark-making means to her, who is she talking to? Do we all, as humans, have a similarly strong need to communicate or feel that we are leaving an individual legacy?
The Forest In Me is a meditation on the nature of identity within an isolated dreamscape of freezing snow and forest."
Agafia's Story: The Life of a Siberian Hermit (Russia, 2014)
Above is part 1 of 2. part 2 of 2; complete version on RT documentary channel
produced by RT
from the website:
"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."
Surviving in the Siberian Wilderness for 70 Years (USA, 2013)
produced by Vice.com as part of its "Far Out" series.
"Meet the Last Lykov," article by producer John Martin; photography by Peter Sutherland; from the Vice YouTube site: 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.
(Also available at the Vice.com website.)
1. In this episode, the VICE crew travels to the taiga to learn about Agafia's lifestyle and the encroaching influence of the outside world.
2. In part two, we see that despite the fact that Agafia is nearing 70 years old, she works tirelessly day in and day out to keep up her home. She starts her morning with prayers and then tends to her animals, collects firewood, prepares food, and even fends off the occasional bear.
3. Agafia's neighbor Yerofei has lived by the river near her cabins for the past sixteen years. He was part of the second wave of geologists who spent time visiting the Lykovs in the late 1970s, and eventually made the taiga his home after losing his right leg. Agafia has continued to care for him since he moved.
4. The outside world has crept into Agafia's life in a number of ways. Media attention, news and falling rocket debris have altered her perception of herself and the society she remains outside of, but overall Agafia's daily-to-day hasn't changed much. She maintains an almost childlike optimism that's made most evident through the smile she almost always has on her face.
The Stylite - Upon This Rock (USA, 2013)
produced by Maboroshi Productions
"An examination of life around a monastery complex in the South Caucasus located at the foot of a one hundred forty foot rock outcrop. One of the monks [Fr. Maxim] hopes to become the first stylite there in six hundred years." Originally titled "The Stylite;" earlier extended trailer available.
Varanasi, India: Beyond (India, 2012)
Also available on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/55246312
produced by Cale Glendening, Joey L., and Ryan McCarney
from site description:
"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)
produced by Coptic Youth Channel/Christian Youth Channel
12 episodes; embedded is episode 1
summary: 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 (below)
Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer (US, 2011)
directed by Norris Chumley; narrated by Norris Chumley and
McGuckin; produced by Passion River
websites: http://jesusprayermovie.com; http://http://mysteriesofthejesusprayer.com
from the webite: [D]esert hermits, monks and nuns reveal the simple prayer, bringing us into their private cells, caves and sanctuaries in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Russia."
Archimandrite (Poland/Belarus, 2010)
produced by BelSat TV (Belarus) in association with Telewizja
S.A. (Polish Public Television) TV; this embed Polish with English
Archimandrite Gabriel, an Orthodox monk from the Podlasie province, Poland, is the founder and sole inhabitant of the Kudak grove hermitage by the 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. He has become a spiritual advisor, and reflects on who will succeed him given the transient stay of monks.
Lost in the Taiga (Russia, 2008)
embedded from RuTube; 3 part YouTube version: 1, 2, 3. Russian, no subtitles.
Inspired by the book Lost in the Taiga: One Russian Family's Fifty-Year Struggle for Survival and Religious Freedom in the Siberian Wilderness, by Vasily Peskov. Documentary history of the Lykov family of Old Believers who migrated to Siberia in the late 1930's and lived as hermits in the taiga, only "discovered" in the late 1970's by a Soviet geologist. Later focus on sole survivor Agafia.
The Last Anchorite (UK, 2008)
director and cinematographer, Remigiusz Sowa.
Part 1 embedded above; part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag6WE__82Q8
The "last anchorite" is Father Lazarus El-Anthony, a Coptic hermit living in solitude on Mount Colzim (of St. Anthony's cave), Egypt. An Australian, he worked as a university lecturer teaching literature and philosophy, chiefly Marxism. After his mother's death from cancer, he rethought his life, left Australia, and ultimately came to live as a monk in the desert of Egypt.
Extreme Pilgrim (UK, 2008)
Produced by BBC-Television; featuring Peter Owens-Jones.
Part 3: "Egypt" embedded above; parts 1 ("China") and 2 ("India") also available..
British vicar Peter Owen 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,2007)
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
from the website: 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, 2005)
produced by Philip Groening
http://www.diegrossestille.de/deutsch - no longer updated
from the website:
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 in 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 remained in solitude for over ten years. She specifically adheres to Catholic Traditionalist theology and ritual. Related video of new hermitage in Athlone, Co. Westmead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1dwrgq2f50
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.
Hermits: Freedom or Madness (Australia,1998)
produced by Peter Thomas, Albert Sreet Productions/ABC TV
http://www.catholictv.tv/index.php/programs/113-freedom.html - Available only to subscribers.
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.