There have been surprisingly few feature films or documentaries directly devoted to Gurdjieff’s life and teachings. The only feature-length film, released in 1979, is Meetings with Remarkable Men directed by Peter Brook, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeanne de Salzmann. The single exploration of Gurdjieff’s life and essential ideas is William Patterson’s documentary trilogy The Life and Significance of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. Although many popular movies and underground classics have been influenced by Gurdjieff’s teachings (Groundhog Day, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain), his imprint on these films is rarely suspected by most viewers.


Meetings with Remarkable Men
Enterprise Pictures, United Kingdom (1979)


This feature-length film was an ambitious attempt to bring to the screen Gurdjieff’s second volume of All and Everything, his semi-autobiographical Meetings with Remarkable Men. Directed by acclaimed stage and film director Peter Brook and based on a screenplay by Brook and Jeanne de Salzmann, the film was largely shot on location in Afghanistan.The production of the film was beset with many challenges. Writer and student of Gurdjieff, Kathryn Hulme, wrote the original screenplay, but withdrew from active participation in the early stages of the film and distanced herself from the production. The conditions in Afghanistan during filming in the late 1970s, shortly before the Soviet invasion, were dangerous and unpredictable, contributing a tense urgency to the filming. And, as the film neared completion there were numerous changes in the script and editing process. When the movie was released it received a mixed reception from film critics, the general public and followers of Gurdjieff. The general sense was that the cinematic result was uneven, poorly edited and failed to capture the “remarkable” nature of Gurdjieff’s search for esoteric knowledge. Nevertheless, the film has many strengths including an excellent music score by Laurence Rosenthal, the magnificent Afghanistan landscape and ambience, the scene of a traditional musical and singing contest, a young Gurdjieff and his father silently gazing at the night stars, and the memorable depiction at the climax of the film of the initiation ceremony and sacred dances at the mysterious Sarmoung monastery. The latter constitute the most enduring value of the film as they are the only public record of the authentic Gurdjieff Movements.

In Search of the Miraculous
Fairway Films, Australia (1998)


This short (42 minutes) black and white film is based on P.D. Ouspensky’s book of the same name. It combines archival historical footage of the period (1914-1924) with re-enactments of crucial events in Ouspensky’s search for objective knowledge under the guidance of Gurdjieff. Most of the dialogue and commentary are taken directly from Ouspensky’s book. This modest film is surprisingly effective in capturing the ambience of the period and the compelling nature of Ouspensky’s life-changing encounter with Gurdjieff and his powerful ideas.

The Life and Significance of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff
Arete Communications, United States (2003)

This documentary film trilogy was a seven year Work project led by William Patterson who wrote, directed and narrated the three films. Each won an award at the WorldFest International Film Festival. They were filmed on location in Egypt, Russia, France, England and the United States and combine archival footage redolent of the times, contemporary scenes of significant places connected with Gurdjieff’s life and expositions of Gurdjieff’s core teachings and ideas. Overall the trilogy is informative, intelligent and well produced, and constitutes a major contribution to documenting Gurdjieff’s life, ideas and importance to contemporary and future generations. A few minor criticisms are warranted: the technical quality of the films (sound recording, editing) are sometimes amateurish, the script is coloured by Patterson’s strong opinions of some of Gurdjieff’s principal students, and there is a little too much of Patterson himself – who seems to constantly dominate the screen.

Gurdjieff in Egypt: The Origin of Esoteric Knowledge


Part I of the trilogy is both a visual tour of Egypt and an exploration of the origins of Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way teachings. It examines the work of scholars of ancient Egyptian history such as Issa Schwaller de Lubicz, John Anthony West and Robert Schoch, explores the myth of Atlantis and presents the theory that an ancient form of esoteric Christianity originating in "pre-sand Egypt" was the wellspring of Gurdjieff’s teachings.

Gurdjieff’s Mission: Introducing the Teaching to the West


The second part covers the period from 1912 to 1924 when Gurdjieff first introduced his Fourth Way teachings to the Western world. We are introduced to major students such as P.D. Ouspensky, A.R. Orage and John Bennett, and gain insights into how Gurdjieff challenged his pupils to develop their highest spiritual potential. The scenes shot in Moscow, Constantinople, London, Paris and New York provide an overlay that gives a sense of Gurdjieff’s intensive struggle to establish his teachings in the Western world.

Gurdjieff’s Legacy: Establishing the Teaching in the West


The final part of the trilogy begins with his serious automobile accident in 1924, an incident that completely changed the direction and arc of his work in the West. It details his decision to transmit his teachings in written form as a ‘legominism’ – Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson – and his intensive group work with students in Paris and America during the 1930s and 1940s. The last few years of his life show Gurdjieff teaching his pupils through the ordinary activities of daily life and preparing his senior students to carry on his legacy following his death.

Gurdjieff 1949 “Home Movie”
Available in MP3 format in G. J. Bloom’s Gurdjieff: Harmonic Development
Basta Audio Visuals, Netherlands, 2004
[Also available on YouTube]


In the summer of 1949, shortly before Gurdjieff’s death, student Evelyn Sutta recorded various motor trips throughout the French countryside with her camera. The short silent colour film is accompanied by a soundtrack of Gurdjieff’s harmonium music and is decidedly amateurish, with shaky camera work and abrupt changes of scene. We see images of Notre Dame cathedral, the French Alps, picnics by the roadside and Gurdjieff and his entourage leaving on their trips. The film is one of the few publicly available visual records of Gurdjieff during his lifetime and for that reason has historical archival significance, but little value beyond that.

Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way: From Selves to Individual Self to the Self
Arete Communications, United States, 2011


At a three-day seminar at the St. Francis Retreat Center, San Juan Bautista, California, William Patterson presented an introduction to the Fourth Way teaching of Gurdjieff. The theme was explored through guided meditation, Conscious Body-Breath Impressions, dialogues and private interviews. The video opens with an Introduction followed by three seminar dialogues: ‘Images of God and Machines,’ ‘Science of Being’ and ‘Faith of Consciousness.’ Completing the video is a short vignette, ‘Mr. Gurdjieff’s Celebratory Dinner,’ showing the preparation and execution of a formal meal celebrating Gurdjieff’s birthday on January 13.

Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way Vol. 2: The Movement from Sex to Love
Arete Communications, United States, 2016


The second volume of Introduction to Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way documents three days of “probes and dialogues” at a California retreat led by William Patterson exploring a wide range of topics related to the Fourth Way. Patterson clearly articulates key psychological ideas including the human being as a bio-plasmic machine, self-observation and self-listening, embodiment exercises, the challenge of living in the present, conscience and ‘being-Partkdolg-duty,’ unconscious and conscious love, sexuality, and gender identity. Also addressed are important cosmological concepts such as ‘reciprocal maintenance’ and exchange of energies, the origin of the universe, and the relationship between cosmic harmony and disharmony. Patterson serves up a menu of stimulating Fourth Way ideas that both challenge and illuminate the viewer.

Spiritual Pilgrimage: Mr. Gurdjieff’s Father’s Grave
Arete Communications, United States, 2016


The film, written, produced and narrated by William Patterson, was awarded the Gold Medal in the Religion-Ethics-Spirituality category at the 2016 WorldFest International Film Festival. In Meetings with Remarkable Men, Gurdjieff devotes a chapter to his father, an amateur poet and bard, who had a deep spiritual impact on his son. At the end of the chapter, Gurdjieff admonishes “any of my sons, whether by blood or in spirit” to seek out and visit his father’s grave. These words inspired Patterson to initiate a 21-day pilgrimage to Gurdjieff’s father’s final resting place in Gyumri, Armenia. Starting with a visit to the Prieuré and Gurdjieff’s own grave in Avon, France, Patterson travels backward in time to Turkey where Gurdjieff and his students lived, and where he often visited P.D. Ouspensky. From there Patterson travels to Tiflis, Georgia where Gurdjieff first opened his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. Returning to Turkey, he visits Kars where Gurdjieff lived in the medieval quarter and Kars Military Cathedral where he studied as a youth. After a visit to Ani, Turkey, the ancient city where Gurdjieff discovered the Sarmoung manuscript, Patterson arrives in Armenia. There he seeks out Gurdjieff’s birthplace in Gyumri before finally paying homage to Gurdjieff’s father at his grave in Gyumri’s Old Cemetery. The film has high production qualities and is expertly narrated by Patterson. Many of the visual backdrops are stunning and capture the colour and atmosphere of the Near and Middle East.