Thursday, September 08, 2005

"The Silence" by Ingmar Bergman

If you've ever wondered where Tim Burton and David Lynch got the inspiration for their surreal imagery and dramaturgy from, rent "The Silence" DVD and you'll get an inkling. "The Silence" is deafening with out-of-kilter characters set in the theater of the absurd. This movie was made in 1963, and Bergman decided not to use any film music so he could accentuate a world of despair and suffocation. The basic story of "The Silence" is about two sisters who travel with the young son of one of the women in a strange country where people speak an unknown language, meanwhile signs of an imminent war are everywhere, hence the tense and stagnant air throughout.

Ingmar Bergman never assumes that it is his job to make his movies "easier to understand" for the audience. He respects the intelligence of the moviegoers and always opts to stay on the high ground, and we are, thankfully, the beneficiaries of that persistence. In "The Silence", he shows us images of sexual frustration yet lays no music track underneath to make the images easier to swallow. In the movie industry, many, if not most, of the male directors have been accused of being weak in portraying female characters, but that kind of accusation can never be leveled at Bergman, and the evidence is clear in all of his movies.

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