The Silence (1963)

"Excellent"

The Silence (1963) Review


The Silence would be a fine title for pretty much any Ingmar Bergman movie, but this film truly does earn its moniker, with long stretches of film with no dialogue at all.

The Silence is spare, but not in the desolate wasteland sort of way of many Bergman films. In fact, the movie takes place in a city, mostly within a posh hotel. Two sisters get off a train when one of them, Ester (Ingrid Thulin) is too sick to go on. Her trollop sister Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) checks sis into a hotel, drops off her young son, and spends the hours cruising for men (which she finds). Eventually, Anna and the kid decide to continue on their journey, leaving Ester in the hotel, apparently to die alone.

Silence indeed.

The Silence still packs quite a punch in its few words, as a tale of deep resentment is crafted between Anna and Ester, who is obviously holding her back. The remainder of the film is vintage Bergman, told largely through the eyes of the child Johan, as he wanders the hotel, visits with a troupe of dwarfs, pesters the hotel staff with a cap gun, and coldly observes Ester as she approaches death. It's a film, masterfully told but reliant on your patience, about isolation, indignation, and unspoken resentment of family obligations. You may not see your personal situation in Ester and Anna's set piece, but sometime in your life you'll find yourself identifying with one of them.

A new digital transfer appears on this new Criterion Collection edition of the film, along with a printed essay and an enlightening video interview with Bergman biographer Peter Cowie.

Available on DVD as part of a box set with Winter Light and Through a Glass Darkly (all part of a trilogy of sorts). Aka Tystnaden.



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