Chris – Japon and Battle in Heaven are better films in my opinion even if they induce the same kind of feelings as Silent Light. The Ordet ending which has been mentioned a lot in this thread is what bothered me. It seems like a rehash of old ideas where nothing new is added because the film maker is intelligent enough to realise Dreyer already had the winning formula.
Reygados is clearly a talented director and may well one day make a truly great film, but I feel he may have to release the shackles of these past masters and develop a style which truly expresses himself not the movies he has seen.
Silent Light 1 – Pauline At the Beach 0
two terrible efforts.
Pauline at the Beach 25 Silent Light 14
Please confirm this- i was taking the count from 20-8 Beach last page, and i made it 13 not 12 at the last count for Silent Light
the 20-8 counted Jesse’s vote which u may have counted after it reposted
Pauline at the Beach — 1 vs Silent Light — 0
So what is the correct score now then, with Coheed’s? Is it 26-14 or 26-13? I don’t think i counted Jesse’s again, and that was for Pauline wasn’t it? Den, you made it 25-12 when i made it 25-13.
Kenji I make it to be 26 Pauline at the Beach 14 Silent Light
Yes that’s what i thought
Cat – “Bob, I equally like Antichrist and Silent Light too. :)” Thanks for that, Cat – I’m glad I’m not the only one!
I appreciate all the votes here and discussion for both films. One thing I am finding out from any event such as this is just how personal our connection to any film is. It is often difficult to put in words (‘though some of us try) why one film works for us and another doesn’t. It all comes down to what we want and expect from the films we see. That’s why I think the discussion of these two very different films is so revealing. Thanks for everyone’s comments so far. I hope we have more to come.
I think Risselada has covered most of the questions Greg raises very adequately. So, not to go into specifics, I would like to add a few comments here. I think the film is purposefully set in a tight-knit religious community to give it that extra tension. Here are people who live by a strict moral code, which one of their members, Johan, has obviously transgressed. Johan has a loving wife and a beautiful family of children. He seems a person who is liked and respected in his community. He is racked by guilt, but also torn in his affection and passion for another woman – which he believes override his feelings for his own wife. He tries to be as frank and honest as he can to everyone about this – including his wife. Of course, the decision he has made to continue the affair is wrecking his marriage and testing his faith and the power of the community. In other words, the setting is appropriate to give the story its emotional resonance – it’s oomph. It sets up the dilemma and the eventual denouement.
I think it is clear that this is a Mennonite community by the dress and low German speech – so it doesn’t need to be stated explicitly. Also, the setting is left unspecified to give it a more universal relevance. This could be almost anywhere, but like the best scenes in Malick, the setting is taken as a metaphor for the beauty and mystery of nature – which abounds everywhere in the exterior filming and shots – especially the beginning and end.
Now, back to the ‘miracle’ or not at the end: I think it is up to the viewer to make of this whatever they will. Remember that this is a tight-knit community of very serious and devote believers. Every aspect of theiir day revolves around a strict adherence to religious faith. They believe in what they follow and try to follow what they believe (forgive the tautology here). Whether the kiss and ‘resurrection’ is to be taken as real or metaphorical, it is real in the context of the imaginations and belief system of those involved in this story. The conclusion is left open-ended, I believe. It is left to each viewer’s interpretation. In this rather other-wordly reality, where time can literally stop (ie, the clock in that crucial scene) anything is possible – at least in the imagination.
As I mentioned before, why is this any different than scenes in Bergman’s great humanistic masterpiece Fanny & Alexander? Do we need to explain the appearance of the dead father to his children in F&A? Is it meant to be real, or are they imagining it? What about the rescue of the children, when they ‘appear’ in their room, as if by magic, even though they are in the trunk? What about the comings and goings in the puppet theatre and the mummy? Etc, etc. If we allow Bergman the benefit of the doubt here as to his artisitc inttentions, let’s allow Reygadas the same respect.
I, for one, salute film artists who allow us, the viewer, to use our imaginations and try to figure out what is happening – obviously not in the so-called real world. We can enter another reality through art, which is why I applaud films that squeeze other possibilities out of a situation. Let’s forget the tyranny of realism and allow the filmmaker to explore possibilities in their imagination – and stimulate our own.
As for the pacing in this film – I contend it is just right. I am anxious to explore more of Reygadas filmography, as this is my first. I have seen lots of Rohmer.
Although I voted for Silent Light, it’s pleasing to see Rohmer doing so well. He is a director in need of far more exposure than Reygadas, and I hope that he will go far so that both users and myself can experience his films for the first time, as I have only seen little.
As for some calling Silent Light a “spiritually empty” film, I always thought Ordet was by far the more spiritual of the two. What Silent Light is, is the more Sacred. Two different films.
Oooh, Bob, everyone is throwing out names of a lot of different filmmakers out there in regards to Silent Light, but I might like your Malick reference the best.
“Although I voted for Silent Light, it’s pleasing to see Rohmer doing so well. He is a director in need of far more exposure than Reygadas, and I hope that he will go far so that both users and myself can experience his films for the first time, as I have only seen little.”
Jackford, I agree with you based on my own personal assessment. Reygadas has a couple of other films which I will surely be looking out for in the future, but I feel more compelled to seek out more Rohmer even though I wasn’t overly impressed with Pauline at the Beach. I’ve seen his first three “Moral Tales” and was very impressed with My Night at Maude’s. I need to see a lot more to go to make a dent in his filmography.
Éric Rohmer (Pauline at the Beach) 0 vs Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light) 1
I can’t believe I’m voting against Pauline at the Beach because I find this film to almost be one of Rohmer’s best efforts and Rohmer is one of my favorite directors… but I think Reygadas needs my support. Silent Light is one of my favorite films of the decade, a film I could watch over and over and completely surrender myself to it. I will be just as happy if Rohmer wins though. Toughest choice I’ve had to make thus far.
I love Reygadas and think Battle in Heaven is the best movie of the 2000s. But Silent Light fails because Reygadas has replaced the protagonist outsider with his own camera, and Reygadas is a poor anthropologist.
Rohmer is one of my favorite directors but I think Pauline is his worst film (with The Green Ray); primarily, because it’s his most bitter film, and we don’t watch Rohmer for bitterness.
I love both directors but these are their worst films…I’m going with Rohmer because he is a singular force….there was nobody like him before or since. Plus, as a critic in the 1940s, when all serious critics were weeping about the passing of the silents, Rohmer was the first to say “Screw you, sound cinema is the superior cinema.” And right, he was.
“there was nobody like him before or since”
I always thought Henry Jaglom to be comparable.
his worst film (with The Green Ray)
Ouch. Not to derail things from the Pauline/Silent Light discussion but I have to ask, in what way do you find The Green Ray bitter? I find it entirely compassionate, tenderly made and resolutely hopeful (plus the romantic stuff at the end makes me swoon ever so). I’m intrigued to understand your viewpoint on this.
Pauline at the Beach 0, Silent Light 1
must add that i love rohmer w/ as much abandon as i do silent light. but silent light speaks to the soul. it’s heart not intellect. very surprised at the vocal disdain on this thread for a work of such epic beauty. when i watch silent light i’m not contemplating , i’m not tracing artistic lines from tarkovsky or dreyer, i’m not constructing my intellectual academic dismissal due to reference or intertextual modality bs – i’m watching. pure and simple. heart aching, blood flowing. lucky to be alive and experience pure cinema like this.
Vote tally through Brian P’s vote
27 – 16 in favor of Rohmer’s Pauline at the Beach
I’m casting Dimitris vote:
Éric Rohmer (Pauline at the Beach) 0 vs Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light) 1
And a message from the man himself:
“Tell them Dimitris is voting for Silent Light not because he thinks it’s better than Pauline but like in the other game, he feels political and spiritual these days,nothing religious and pious at all,spiritual is of higher importance. I admire both films and directors equally though but deep down,i’m hoping to see more Rohmer ;) "
Éric Rohmer (Pauline at the Beach) —0 vs Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light) —1
Pauline at the Beach – 0 vs. Silent Light – 1
First, Pauline. I loved her and her movie. Her’s is my favorite performance in the Cup so far. Sure Pauline (and possibly Sylvain) is the most level-headed of the bunch, but her characterization is still natural enough that she flits uncomfortably around the room when she is not participating in the conversation. It’s little things like that that make these occasionally ridiculous characters feel like occasionally ridiculous real people. It’s a fun, quick film that delivers everything it intends without tackling too much. (Also, I loved how polite everyone was before, during, and after arguments.)
Now, Silent Light. I understand some of the criticism in this thread. Risselada mentioned one of my favorite parts when the camera maintains its directionality while the truck pivots around to reveal Johan behind the wheel after one of the longish driving sequences. Later we get a similar driving sequence, but this time when the car turns, the camera turns with the car, and a moment later cuts to Esther in the passenger seat. Other examples of interesting camera work are the slow entry of the mechanic’s garage showing nothing of interest until a pan down reveals men working in a hole and after the Johan’s and his father’s crunchy footsteps we get to silently take in 270 degrees of the snow-covered horizon. I can understand someone thinking that these little surprises are not enough to justify the long takes, but for me the incredible photography, nifty camera tricks, and the interesting faces (especially Esther’s) kept me eagerly watching.
I felt the acting and characterizations are perfect for the film. Johan and Esther were in the middle of the worst time of their lives. It is understandable that they might have a melt down from time to time. And Johan still wasn’t sad sack enough to not dance with his truck whenever a good song came on the radio or watch a little TV in the back of a van with his kids. Johan’s love and remorse felt very believable to me.
My vote goes for the less talkative of the two beautiful films.
“Yeah, I know, one’s too young, the other’s too ‘experienced’ for us to treat them like sex objects”
Cut Marion some slack. She was married, not the hardest working concubine for the US Navy. Although she did appear in one episode of Miami Vice, so maybe you are right. As for Pauline, someone could have been kind enough to tell her to pull up her pants.
Éric Rohmer (Pauline at the Beach) – 0 – Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light) – 1
Difficult decision, but I have to go with Silent Light, which I am slightly more enamoured with.
The ending of Silent Light also kind of ruined it for me. The cinematography also felt predictable at times, but had great moments as well. Pauline at the Beach isn’t my favourite Rohmer, far from it, but it’s another good effort by one of the few filmmakers who can explore this theme so inexhaustibly.
Hey, I’d do Marion. But in ‘expected’ film terms (pre Sex in the City), if one casts girls to wear bikinis for an entire movie, commercial thinking would have you cast single, early-mid 20s more conventionally attractive people.
Pauline – 0 vs Silent Light – 1
I’m still working on my review for the Rohmer film but enjoyed it very much. However, the Rohmer film left me with a superficial and voyeristic satisfaction while Reygadas left me perplexed and contemplative much like Tarkovsky. For me it’s a close call but I’m comparing two films and not their director’s oeuvre.
Pauline at the Beach 1 – Silent Light 0
Witty, funny, sexy, one of the Rohmer’s best.
It’s refreshing to see so many different opinions of which films are a directors’ best in this topic. If you try saying something like that with well known directors like Bergman, Kurosawa or Fellini you’ll get loads of people correcting you, only because some critics always put the same films on their lists. Maybe the critics only saw the most ‘’critically acclaimed’’ films themselves?
I didn’t mean to say that Green Ray was bitter. I don’t like Green Ray because of the mysticism, which is also unique in Rohmer.