The Silence (1963)
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Critic Reviews for The Silence
Bergman unfolds grand themes-childhood and its mute sensibility, adulthood and its unhealed emotional wounds-in highly inflected images, which have an anguished intensity unseen since the age of silent films.
There is not much dialogue, almost no music, but the sex scenes have vigor and primitive power, to say the least.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bergman has not given us enough to draw on, to find the underlying meaning or emotional satisfaction in this film.
Audience Reviews for The Silence
i'll be in the minority in this among bergman fans, but i don't find much about this film i enjoy. the imagery is completely stunning, and the effect of the relative silence of the film has great effect when we get the emotional outburst from anna towards the end, but overall i felt that this film crawled along in anticipation, waiting for that great moment that never really came. the whole thing plays like a private family affair that you're witnessing but never really being let in on, relegated to the fringe and left hoping to figure out the significance of what you're seeing. the silence of the film has a deafening effect that may have been intended, one in which the viewer feels that their ears are ringing and the story takes place on another plane of existence, but this also left a dull effect. whatever, the purpose, the war imagery seemed to play up the boiling over of the sister's relationship, but it all felt a bit trite to me. in the end, an average film.
Last in the "Silent God" trilogy and certainly the most surreal. A very bleak and slightly claustrophobic look at two sisters traveling home after a holiday with a small boy who we eventually learn is the son / nephew of the two. Things come to a head when they stop to stay in a hotel for a few days, to allow for the "elder" sister to recover from her "illness" before continuing on with their journey home. Luckily for us, the hotel the have chosen is filled with a very "Lynchian" group of characters. The sisters realtionship is strained to say the least and as the film progresses we learn the the elders alcoholism is the least of her issues, while the younger seems a bit of a nymphomaniac. All of which is complicated significantly by an underlying hint of incest. And the relationship of the boy between the two, both of whom (in a sense) act as a mother figure to him. As with all Bergman films, you will either be sucked in immediately to the world he has created and enjoy being a "fly on the wall" or you will find it rather slow, bleak and unintriguing. His films aren't for everyone, but I tend to really enjoy them.
Do not be put off by some reactions to this movie. It is not easy to watch, as it is light on plot and deliberately obscure in places. But if you can go with the flow of the film, you will be rewarded with some top class acting, incisive argument and lots to think about afterwards. It reminds me a little of a Pinter play - if you like those you should also like this film. The film also has one or two monumental pieces of cinematography - not least the scenes with the small boy in the large lobby of the hotel - far more effective in this film than in the "tribute use" by Kubrick in the Shining many years later. The shots of tanks rolling through the unnamed Southern European town will stick in my mind for a long time. Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom were two of Bergman's best women and he works with them to terrific effect in this movie. This is one of the great movies - highly recommended.
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