The Island of the Monks

The Island of the Monks


The Dove Take:

This is an interesting film and clearly shows that God moves within the changes of our lives and that He is with us even during the transitional moments. This film will bolster your faith!

Dove Review


The Sion monastery in the Netherlands can hold 120 monks, but only eight remained in 2013. Together, the remaining group bands together to help build their community back up. Their journey leads the monks to the Island of the Grey Monks.

The review

The lives of these monks in this film are far from boring—unless you consider peace and solitude boring! This documentary does a terrific job in chronicling the lives of several monks that make a move from their large abbey to a much smaller house on an island, Schiermonnikoog. The film does a remarkable job in focusing on transition, something that everyone faces sooner or later. As one monk states, “All of life is letting go.”

We see a scene that shows several photographs of the monks throughout the years: 1934, 1972, 2000, and 2015. It is clear their number has shrunk over the years and it no longer makes sense to continue staying in the vast expanse that is their current Abbey in Sion. Yet they have become entrenched in the small community and no one wants to see them leave. In fact, one man states he is angry they are leaving. Two of their oldest, Bro. Aloysius and Bro. Columba, will have to go to Westmalle as they wait for the four others to get settled in the new monastery. But as one monk says, “I came here for God, not for the building.”

The monks sing, pray, eat together, and enjoy working the land and their solitude. Some of them share their story and what led to their lives as monks—fascinating stories. One of them left the monastery for a time when he fell in love with a woman, but six years later, he returned to the life of a monk, realizing it was his destiny. The scenes outside are beautifully shot and we see the monks, each in his own way, prepare for the transition of going toward the unknown and uncertain. Yet they make the point when they arrive to the new location: God is here.

The film is best suited for ages 12+, as it deals with difficult life decisions and the story of the monk that lived with a woman for six years. But it reflects the lives of these monks and how they have found peace by living a simple life through the fellowship they share with one another and with God. It has earned our Dove-Approved Seal for Ages 12+ and is faith friendly.

Content Description

Faith: The monks pray and worship God and sing songs to Him.
Violence: None
Sex: A monk admits to having left the monastery for a time, and he lived with a woman for six years.
Language: None
Violence: None
Drugs: None
Nudity: None
Other: Difficult decisions are faced; a man has a skull that he displays; a man states he is angry the monks are leaving as he enjoyed worshipping in the Abbey.


Company: Digital Media Rights
Genre: Documentary
Runtime: 69 min.
Reviewer: Ed C.