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The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton

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The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton

In Theaters 2015

 

 

Who is Thomas Merton?

In 1941, aspiring author Thomas Merton abandoned his bohemian life in New York City and ran away to the strictest observance of Catholic monasticism he could find—a Trappist monastery in rural Kentucky, where he took a lifelong vow of silence, poverty, obedience and stability.


Considering the moral laxity of his past life, Merton felt that writing would be at odds with his new monastic vocation. But while he vowed to put down his pen for good, his abbot recognized Merton’s literary talent and demanded he write his life story. In obedience, Merton hammered out 
his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, which was published in 1948. To Merton’s surprise, the book became a blockbuster hit and shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It also sent scores of World War II veterans, students and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the United States and around the world as they sought to follow Merton’s example. Despite his best efforts to submerge himself in the anonymity of his religious vocation, Thomas Merton had become an overnight celebrity.

Though bombarded with countless speaking requests and the other unwanted pressures of his newfound fame, Merton continued to write and publish many books on sacramental living, prayer and contemplation. As the Cold War and mounting fear of nuclear holocaust took center stage, Merton used his celebrity to speak out against war, violence, racism and other hot button issues of the 1960s. As a prominent peace activist and proponent of social justice amidst such turbulent times, Merton quickly became both loved and hated by many.

During his twenty-seven years as a monk, Merton published 56 books. Since then he has sold approximately 15 million books translated into dozens of languages. Merton’s influence has grown exponentially since his tragic and unexplained death by accidental electrocution in 1968. He is widely recognized as an important 20th-century Catholic mystic who forged new paths into both interfaith dialogue and non-violent peacemaking. In addition to the International Thomas Merton society, currently there are 57 local Thomas Merton chapters and societies around the globe dedicated to keeping his legacy alive.

 

About the Film

Synopsis

The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton is a feature film about world famous monk and peace activist Thomas Merton. In the summer of 1966, Merton falls in love with a nursing student half his age, plunging him into the most agonizing predicament of his life. As he endeavors to prevent his secret romance from being discovered by his abbot, James Fox, Merton is brought to the brink of despair, realizing he must finally choose between serving himself or serving the world.

Endorsements

“A beautiful portrayal of one of the great spiritual masters of our time, “The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton” highlights a period of tremendous creativity and volcanic change for the person who was, at the time, America’s most well known Catholic writer and sage. This lovely new screenplay ushers us into the often misunderstood world of monastic life, artfully showing the struggle of a man trying to remain faithful to his vows after having fallen in love. Both longtime fans of Merton and newcomers to his life will find it sensitive, nuanced and often deeply moving.”
James Martin, SJ, Jesuit priest and author of Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints

“Thomas Merton is serving history as a ‘Prime Attractor’. He excites, challenges, and educates the hardest of hearts and the most rigid of minds from so many different spheres of life. He seduces people into a future where there is room and compassion for so much more. You can jump into that future through this fully entertaining but profoundly true account of his life.”
— Richard Rohr, Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation

“I found it very gripping — read it in one bite!”
 — Jim Forest, friend of Merton, writer, peace activist

“Thomas Merton deserves to be known and read by a new generation, and Ben Eisner and Kevin Miller are creating an ideal vehicle to make the introduction. Those who have read Merton will find much here to deepen their understanding of the man, and those who haven’t read him will want to as soon as they leave the theater.
— Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker/activist (www.brianmclaren.net)

“The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton narrates with respect and humor significant events in the famous monk’s last years that challenged his personal integrity and his crucial relationship to his monastery’s abbot, James Fox. The screenplay realistically portrays the major role that Fox played in Merton’s life both as a down-to-earth spiritual mentor and as one of his literary career’s best friends. The screenplay follows Merton’s movement through personal challenges to his living out his vocation in a context of crisis that is mirrored in events of the Sixties that created turbulence for America’s own sense of its direction through world upheaval. This script deserves serious consideration for translation into a film that would attract a global audience.”
— Jonathan Montaldo, co-editor of The Intimate Merton

— Source: http://mertonmovie.com

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6 Responses

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  1. I’m glad to know about this. That’s an interesting point Rorh makes about Merton as a “prime attractor.” That’s a concept I’ve not heard before, either, but it made sense immediately.

    Nice to have an option to Hollywood silliness!

    shoreacres

    June 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

  2. I’m pretty excited about this development, Linda! You’re right, a lot of films have been made about stories that really don’t matter. Why not a movie about Thomas Merton? It’s about time for people – especially our young people – to be introduced to one of the great spiritual figures of the 20th century.

    As you know I’m a Merton fan. What I like about him is summed up by these words of bestselling author, Fr. James Martin:

    Thomas Merton tells us that we can be flawed, we can be ourselves and still be holy…

    Looking forward to watching the movie…

    — Matt

    MattAndJojang

    June 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

  3. I wasn’t aware of this film. We rarely watch movies but this is one I’ll try to make sure we see!

    Bill

    June 3, 2014 at 9:57 am

  4. From the endorsements of Merton fans and scholars on the screenplay, it seems to be a faithful portrayal of Merton’s life. I, too, Bill, am looking forward to watching the film. I just hope they’ll be able to raise the necessary funds to be able to translate the screenplay into a movie…

    — Matt

    MattAndJojang

    June 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

  5. Please have Damian Lewis play Thomas Merton.

    Margie Meyers

    December 31, 2014 at 5:39 am

  6. Unfortunately, Margie, I don’t have anything to do with the film’s production. Just reposted this because I’m a Merton fan…

    –Matt

    MattAndJojang

    January 3, 2015 at 6:00 pm


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