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- The Silence
- 96 min.
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This is a film that will continue to haunt me. A film that I will probably watch over and over again as my life unfolds and dissect every meaningless meaning from.
An existential study in alienation, Ingmar Bergman's The Silence is a quiet piece, its three leads - two adult sisters and a young boy - struggling to communicate with one another at what appears to be a crisis time in their lives, though the details are mostly unknown. They exist in a world of impossible communication (a "silence" as much as the silent God of the title), a hotel in a country where no one speaks their language - a sort of vaguely European pidgin, no translation available, though perhaps the kindly concierge is the only one to make real connections - and the imagery supports the theme. Sisters in the same shot but adjoining rooms, people having sex in full view of others as if they were invisible, a bed frame that looks like bars, and so on. Some have remarked that the sisters are facets of the same woman, so it also gets into alienation from the self. Even without that reading - the boy's ambiguous parentage sells me on it - both show the kind of self-hatred that comes from knowing a part of oneself has betrayed us, the younger sister by her basest instincts, the older by her sick body. As for the boy, he feels apart from the concerns of adults. They sometimes fascinate him, sometimes bore him, but he does try his best to decode their communications. Wrapped in what appears to be Bergman's own, often Oedipal, childhood recollections, the film manages to rise above the status of existential tract. The subject matter is bleak, but I do think the last shot carries a lot of hope.
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In 10 official lists
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This movie ranks #1 in Guldbagge Award - Best Swedish Film
This movie ranks #69 in FLM's Best Swedish Films of All Time
This movie ranks #109 in Cahiers du Cinéma's Annual Top 10 Lists
This movie ranks #253 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #338 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #499 in Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art
This movie ranks #561 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #692 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #792 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #830 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life