FILMADRID & MUBI: The Video Essay—"Silencer"

A mash-up of "Blow-Up" and "The Conversation", this video essay is a reconstruction of the search to solve the crime in "Blow Up".

The Video Essay is a joint project of MUBI and FILMADRID Festival Internacional de Cine. Film analysis and criticism found a completely new and innovative path with the arrival of the video essay, a relatively recent form that already has its own masters and is becoming increasingly popular. The limits of this discipline are constantly expanding; new essayists are finding innovative ways to study the history of cinema working with images. With this non-competitive section of the festival both MUBI and FILMADRID will offer the platform and visibility the video essay deserves. The seven selected works will be shown during the dates of FILMADRID (June 8 - 17, 2017) on MUBI’s cinema publication, the Notebook. Also there will be a free public screening of the selected works during the festival. The selection was made by the programmers of MUBI and FILMADRID.


Video essay by Tope Ogundare

A mash-up of Blow-Up and The Conversation, Silencer begins as an audiovisual reconstruction of my attempts to scratch a personal cinephile itch, but morphs into a commentary on the limits of sensory perception and the often illusory nature of subjectivity.    


Having recently re-watched Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation, I was somehow—though appropriately—reminded of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. In particular, a nagging question resurfaced for me: that of the apparent murder of a man in a lonely London park by a gunman, the shot from whose gun I distinctly remember not having ever heard. For years I've quietly wondered about the curious absence of an audible gunshot, eventually conceding to the possibilities that (a) there is in fact a gunshot which I have for some reason failed to hear; (b) there is in fact a gunshot and a practical reason why I have never heard it; (c) a gunshot which should ideally be present and audible has been knowingly omitted by Antonioni and his technicians; (d) the 'murder' is, like the ending of the film itself, a moment designed to undermine/question the very concept of reality, one’s perception of reality, and one's memory of such perceptions.

Well, having been gifted with the character of Harry Caul, the surveillance and sound guru who obsessively interrogates sneakily acquired audio recordings in The Conversation, I decided to create something of a video mashup in which Harry works to uncover the hidden/absent gunshot from Blow-Up. What Harry 'unearths' and what I personally discovered in the making of this video only confirms the fascinating limitations of sensory perception as it pertains to experiencing images and sounds, and how I - and many others, including Harry Caul in the context of The Conversation - inadvertently try to circumvent these limitations by accentuating the irrelevant or inventing the non-existent. As a result, I would be extremely curious to know how a viewer's own experience of these films, what they remember seeing and hearing, influences their experience of this little video.

NB: I managed to include elements of a certain Brian De Palma picture, completing something of a trifecta.

Don't miss our latest features and interviews.

Sign up for the Notebook Weekly Edit newsletter.


The Video EssayVideo EssaysFilmadridFrancis Ford CoppolaMichelangelo AntonioniVideos
Please sign up to add a new comment.


Notebook is a daily, international film publication. Our mission is to guide film lovers searching, lost or adrift in an overwhelming sea of content. We offer text, images, sounds and video as critical maps, passways and illuminations to the worlds of contemporary and classic film. Notebook is a MUBI publication.


If you're interested in contributing to Notebook, please see our pitching guidelines. For all other inquiries, contact the editorial team.