For those who have been moved by a unified "om" at the end of a yoga class or harmonized in church, "Mantra: Sounds Into Silence" will resonate. This documentary examines the quiet power of shared singing, looking beyond religion and focusing on the connection between those who have found solace in mantras.
Director Georgia Wyss explores a variety of experiences around mantras and meditation, from well-known singers like Deva Premal and Miten to those who have simply found that it enriches their daily lives. The most powerful moments are in a chapel in San Quentin Prison, where inmates come alive with the chaplain's visits and their melodies.
Wyss captures the benefits across religions (including Buddhism, Sikhism and those outside traditional faiths) and countries (India, the United States, Russia and more) with gorgeous cinematography from Daniel Arvizu, Jordi Azategui, Ismael Joyera and Wari Om.
For the skeptics, the film doesn't only focus on how chanting makes practitioners feel, though that is its most compelling, quiet argument. For those who meditate, it also reveals the physical changes that are measurable in brain scans.
"Mantra: Sounds Into Silence" radiates acceptance, refusing to judge any form of chants as any lesser than others, whether in Sanskrit or English, traditionally sung or rapped over modern beats. It shares that each of its subjects has made the practice his or her own, and it's an attractive message for an audience that may be hungering for its grounding effects.
'Mantra: Sounds Into Silence'
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes