The Silence

1963

The Silence

Critics Consensus

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88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 16

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,447
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Movie Info

The third film in the Ingmar Bergman trilogy beginning with Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light, this movie follows the sisters Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) as they travel to their Swedish home in the company of Anna's son, Johan (Jorgen Lindstrom). While Ester is a sexually frustrated lesbian, her sister engages in numerous sexual relations with a series of men, and their sexual drives are at the root of the tragedy that befalls them during a hotel stay.

Cast

Birger Malmsten
as Restaurant Waiter
Hakan Jahnberb
as The Waiter
Kristina Olansson
as Double for Gunnel Lindblom
Olaf Widgren
as Old Man in hotel corridor
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Critic Reviews for The Silence

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for The Silence

  • Oct 08, 2015
    This film is difficult to rate because regardless of its greatness it is a difficult film. As others have noted, it is suffocating. Here we see the total breakdown in communication -- both with others and with oneself -- and just a desolation. It is no wonder Bergman referred to this as his 'hell.' Behind the silence there is total disfunction. This silence is not liberating or at rest, it is estranged and alienated. Though not an easy film, it is effective in exposing the importance of honesty and communication [with oneself as well as with others] as well as the dangers of no real connection, of dissociation. It is done well but many themes are perfected later in Bergman's great "Persona." As it stands, "Winter Light" is the best of the trilogy, but "The Silence" is a worthwhile entry. Though not very entertaining, it has a strong presence [though negative] and artistic merit. It's in the 3.5-4 range, like "Through a Glass Darkly" -- as with that film, I give it a 4.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 25, 2012
    Not fortunate enough to have a copy of Bergman's "Winter Light", I immediately jumped into this aptly-titled film of his that's also the final film in his "Silence of God" trilogy. If "Through a Glass Darkly" is a religiously probing yet spiritually reassuring film, "The Silence", in a way, is its brooding half-brother. Expecting something reflectively eloquent, "The Silence" has instead caught me off-guard with its coldness. With minimal dialogue and the recurring sound of a ticking clock, this film may just be Ingmar Bergman's most emotionally distant and alienating film. With a plot that's very elliptical in nature and with characters that seem to act in vague, incomprehensible ways, it's a film that's quite difficult to grasp and be emotionally involved in. Yet strangely, its dark sexual spell, devastating performances (specifically by Ingrid Thulin) and Bergman's maestro-like handling of the profound landscapes of the human face makes "The Silence" a masterful mood piece that's definitely hard not to admire. The story, forged in simplicity, is about two sisters, Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) and Ester (Ingrid Thulin), and their complex relationship that teeters between affection and downright contempt. In the middle is Anna's son Johan (Jörgen Lindström), whose naivety makes him the perfect observer in the film. Compared to "Through a Glass Darkly", "The Silence's" spiritual and religious allusions are more inconspicuous, which makes it even harder to absorb and analyze on the basis of the trilogy's theme that is God's silence. With Bergman being a filmmaker that's more artistically inclined in capturing his actors' performances on silent, relatively empty locations, "The Silence" is a genuine challenge for him and cinematographer Sven Nykvist because they are compelled to shoot numerous scenes in busy street corners. But as expected, the film still came out to be visually stunning. Setting-wise, "The Silence" is primarily split into three locations: the hotel room where the three characters are currently staying at, the finely-carpeted hotel corridors and the streets. Tricky as it may seem to be, Bergman was able to convey the personalities of Anna, Ester and Johan by placing them in specific locations that reflect them as characters. Anna, the confused younger sister, is placed mainly on the busy streets to highlight her passively carefree attitude. Ester, the ill, emotionally tormented older sister, is perennially situated within the hotel room to emphasize her physical and emotional limitations. Johan, on the other hand, is constantly placed on the corridors to underline the fact that he is in the 'middle' of it all. Notice how he was never shown roaming the streets along with her mother. Look at how every time Anna is inside the hotel room with Ester and Johan, tension ensues. Despite of their familial ties, Bergman may have been suggesting that God seems to have given the three of them their respective planes of existence (the hotel room, the corridors and the streets) so that balance can be observed. But by integrating the concept of 'God is love' that's also present in "Through a Glass Darkly", Bergman complicates things again. In one key scene, he has suggestively shown that Ester is 'romantically' invested to her sister Anna. Clearly, her love for her younger sister transcends sibling affection. This therefore distorts things even more and again, the question of whether or not god and love being one and the same is truly a positive thing enters the scene. If God is love and love is what Ester is feeling towards Anna, then why is the former still under pain and suffering? If God embodies love, then why is it that the relationship between Ester and Anna angst-ridden, ambiguous and confused? Where is the guiding light? Amid all of these questions, Bergman's thematic God merely looks at the ultimate unraveling in deep silence. Perhaps Ester's love is invalid and wrong. Well, if that is the case, then God, as far as "The Silence" is concerned, is not really love in every sense of the word. The film seems to suggest that, to be more exact, it should not be 'God is love' but 'God is love...with some exceptions'. Arguably, Bergman is at his most emotionally nihilistic in this film. He took the concept of 'God is love' and smashed it right in front of us like some useless ornamental vase. "The Silence" is that shard in the shattered mess that cuts so deep it leaves quite a beautiful scar.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2012
    Not as emotionally enticing or as thematically poigant. Good acting in here though with some interesting questions raised, and I suppose somewhat innovative in its sexual images.
    Dillon L Super Reviewer
  • Nov 03, 2011
    It's all in the photography, sets, lighting, and acting. For a Bergman movie, 'The Silence' stays true to its name. This might be the most polarizing of Bergman's work for its stark portrayal of taboos and sensuality. Moreover, this might be the most influential of Bergman's works if you look at the work of directors from Kubrick to Lynch and so on who likely took a lot from 'The Silence', especially the modern wasteland, empty, dark, grey, nothing, meaninglessness of human existence. It's hard, if not impossible, to find meaning in this movie instead what Bergman has masterfully done is to put a mirror up to the viewers and I imagine everyone will get something different from 'The Silence'.
    Jonny B Super Reviewer

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