When one of them becomes ill, two sisters stop in a foreign country, seemingly on the brink of war, to stay in a hotel with one of their young sons in the final part of the director’s “Silence of God” trilogy (following Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light).
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Bergman was a man of the theater; look at his 50s canon, and you'll see how much he emulated classics and chamber plays. Which makes The Silence something new: a work of rigorous cinematic modernism that enters Antonioni territory (fashionable alienation, long silences) but does it better, with richer characters. An abstract & emotionally brutal film. The sex would shock the moral majority today, let alone in 1963.
The first 10 minutes were like a dream. The form was wonderful, and visually so impressive, and quite a sensual/erotic segment. Although still a good film, it became less interesting as it is progressed; my interest drifted mid way through. For it's time, an impressive work, and the first 45 mins may be some of the earliest precursor of contemplative cinema I have seen.
If you described the movie to someone, it would sound like a bore fest. But there's some kind of magic that Bergman has that makes this one of his weirdest efforts. It deals with adult themes in almost a melodramatic way, which constrasts well with the overall style. One of my favorites.
The Silence is eerie and ordinary. It feels dream-like and solid at the same time. It lingers between contrasting moods, and it does so perfectly. Even the two characters are complete opposites, making their lives miserable. There is no hesitation between the two contrasts, merely a masterful mixture that makes the final product very suffocating but at the same time hopeful.
The best part of the faith trilogy. It cuts down on a lot of the fluff that I thought brought down the previous two films and is instead a beautiful, unpretentious, almost fully realized work. The images and use of space are stunning, as well as the way Bergman uses his actresses faces. It isn't perfect, but it's something of a practice run for what would be Persona.
Bergman really makes you work for the answers in this film but if you are looking for a reason then that's why you're lost. Just take it as it comes and let this extraordinary film wash over you and admire the vibrant imagery that Bergman has put together here.
In a way, Bergman's Silence is a battle between images and words. I think it gains consistence after some dialogues are spoken - after several images are thrown. Definetely not Bergman's best (or any close). Still a classy lesson about movie making.