The Abbey of Gethsemani, established in 1848 in Trappist, Kentucky, and still operating today as a self-sustaining monastery for Roman Catholic Trappist monks, is presented through this Morgan Atkinson documentary as a contemplative tour.
This documentary is the closest thing to being there with the monks, embracing their routines of prayer and work. Granted remarkable access by the monks, Atkinson creates a compelling and unforgettable portrait of a unique way of life.
Much of this project was recorded during the time of the 9/11 crisis. As the number of visitors increased, Atkinson thought of a statement made by Thomas Merton at the time of World War II: “I had wondered what was holding this country together, what has been keeping the universe from cracking in pieces and falling apart. It is this monastery.”
The enduring power of Gethsemani comes through powerfully in this hour-long documentary.
Reviews and Commentary on Morgan Atkinson’s “Gethsemani”
“Morgan Atkinson’s film captures beautifully the rhythms of monastic life at the Cistercian Abbey of Gethsemani. Weaving together individual interviews with extensive footage of the monks at work and at prayer, Gethsemani explores with respect, insight and appealing touches of humor both the unique vocation and the essential humanity of these contemporary representatives of an ancient, still vital tradition.”
Dr. Patrick F. O’Connell, editor of the Merton Seasonal and the Thomas Merton Encyclopedia
“(This) is truly one of the finest independent productions we’ve seen here.”
Craig Cornwell, director of production for Kentucky Educational Television
“Morgan Atkinson’s film of Gethsemani is a journey to a foreign place hidden in the heart of Kentucky, but a place with a message our world is crying out to hear. It is an extraordinary film about an extraordinary place.”
Dr. Paul Pearson, Director, Thomas Merton Center
“Gethsemani’ is an honest and compelling look at the monastic life. I appreciated that it neither romanticiized or trivialized this valuable vocation. ‘Gethsemani’ is a viewing experience that enriches on several levels and I’d recommend it to anyone interested the spiritual life.”
Fr. Ronald Knott, Director, Vocations Office, Archdiocese of Louisville.