If you want to see what real, cloistered monastic life looks like, check out this movie; it is fantastic. It's called "Into Great Silence".
Seeing the film is a retreat in itself: amazing!
The following is from the film's 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. Repitition. 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.
Changing of time, seasons, and the ever repeated elements of the day, of the prayer. A film to become a monastery, rather than depict one. A film about awareness, absolute presence, and the life of men who devoted their lifetimes to god in the purest form. Contemplation.
An object in time.
The Carthusian Order is reputed as one of the most strict brotherhoods among the roman-catholic Church. Hidden from the public eye the daily life of the monks follows the century-old rules and rituals of the order. There are no actual motion pictures of the monks. The last shots were taken in 1960, when two journalists were allowed inside the monastery, provided no monks were depicted.
16 years after his first encounter with the present General Prior of the order the director Philip Groening was granted permission to shoot a film on the life of the monks. This unique shooting permit is the result of a longstanding and trusted relationship between Philip Groening and the General Prior.
For at least 7 years no other film will be granted permission to shoot in the monastery by contract. However, taking into consideration that so far the permission for shooting was never granted, this film may well remain the only one.
Philip Groening lived in the monastery and followed the monks with the camera. By becoming part of the ritual and daily life the director has experienced the life of a recluse himself and thus travelled into the world of the monks and novices who lead a life between old rites and modern achievements.
With nearly four months of shooting in spring and summer 2002, another 3 weeks in Winter 2003, and a last 3 days in December 2003, shooting has been finished. Out of the unique footage created a full feature length film for theatrical release, a book of photographs and a CD release of chanted masses and services will be created.
With a current budget of over 700 000 Euro, the film will come to the screen with 35mm prints directly mastered from HD Cam footage, mixed with 35mm original footage and some Super 8 footage.