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The Silence [DVD] [1963]

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Product details

  • Actors: Ingrid Thulin, Gunnel Lindblom, Birger Malmsten, Håkan Jahnberg, Jörgen Lindström
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Writers: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: Allan Ekelund
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, French, German, Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Nov. 2001
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RZQJ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,386 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

The third part of Ingmar Bergman's trilogy of faith (the others are 'Winter Light' in 1961 and 'Through the Glass Lightly' in 1963). The relationship of two sisters Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) reaches breaking point when they arrive in a strange country and stay in a large hotel, empty but for a troupe of dwarf entertainers. Ester is suffering from a terminal disease and has become overly protective of Anna and, to escape, Anna goes out to find a man and ends up bringing back a waiter to her room. This then proceeds to both arouse and anger Ester culminating in a bitter and violent argument between the sisters.


The third in Ingmar Bergman's trilogy of "chamber works" featuring characters in isolated, existentially dramatic settings, The Silence, made in 1963, is set in Timoka, a fictional Eastern European town with its own made-up language. Stylistically more sensual and maximal than its austere predecessors Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light, it was both a success and a scandal in its day, featuring as it does scenes of masturbation, sex and even lesbian eroticism.

Jorgen Lindstrom plays Jonas, a small boy travelling with his mother Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) and aunt Ester (Ingrid Thulin). His aunt is dying of consumption, but his mother is a great deal more alive and smouldering with sexual energy. As the tension between the bedridden aunt and the frustrated mother mounts, Jonas roams the hotel corridors and chances almost surreally upon the hotels only other occupants--an elderly floor waiter and a troupe of performing dwarves. Meanwhile, his mother is picked up by a waiter in a cafe, is seduced by him in a church then engages in a traumatically miserable bout of hotel sex.

Sultry, full of incident and dreamlike cinematic spectacle (the performing dwarves, a rumbling tank, an overheated railway carriage) there's a sense of aimlessness and oblivion about The Silence, in which the godlessness of the universe, though never discussed, is implied throughout the movie. There is, however, a note of humanist hope struck in the conclusion, more convincing than the platitudinous finale of Through a Glass Darkly.

On the DVD: Bergman's notes explain how he had long nurtured the notion of setting a movie in an imaginary city where "the rules of society cease to exist", and how the young boy's curious wanderings were inspired by his first exposure to Stockholm as a child. Critic Philip Strick's notes reveal that Greta Garbo had at one point been mooted to make a return to the screen in this film and that in certain countries, censors insisted on separate screenings of The Silence for males and females. --David Stubbs

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David Welsh on 17 April 2006
Format: DVD
This film is the final part of Bergman's trilogy exploring the nature and existence of God. He described the trilogy as moving from "certainty achieved" (in Through A Glass Darkly), to "certainty unmasked" (in Winter Light) and finally to God's silence "the negative impression" in this film. After making Tystnaden, Bergman "cast off" (as he put it) his faith in God, and would never again explore these themes in his films. Tystnaden is a dark, intense, slow-moving film with very little dialogue. Two sisters, together with a small boy, the son of one of the sisters and nephew of the other, are on holiday in a foreign country. The two sisters have obviously had a long-term incestuous relationship. One of the sisters is pulling away from this relationship, and having casual encounters with men she meets in this foreign country. The other is ill - and, in fact, dying. The boy is angelic in his demenour and character and is both caught between and ignored by the two women. He wanders round the hotel on his own, and meets some interesting characters. This is a fascinating, dark, subtle, difficult and rewarding film.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Nov. 2001
Format: DVD
The Silence concludes the trilogy of films that includes Through A Glass Darkly and Winter Light. Bergman shows us two sisters, Ester and Anna (with her son, Johan), moving to a strange foreign city. With a loose narrative structure, the scenes have an intensely claustrophobic feeling about them, while the town (we don't know where it is or what language is spoken) has a distinctly Kafka-esque feel. Overall, it is an extremely dark film which views with crushing pessimism human sexuality and desire. The most sensual of the trilogy, it is dreamlike and fluid in its camera work, and, as usual with Bergman films, it contains nothing less than stunning performances. In short: a bleakly-rendered masterpiece.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. N. Reece on 27 Aug. 2008
Format: DVD
The Silence opens with a young boy asking his mother about a sign written in a foreign language. `What does this mean?' To which his mother replies that she doesn't know. And in those opening seven minutes, as the boy, his mother and his aunt travel on a train to an unknown country, Bergman expertly sets up that strange experience of being in a distant world, where everything around you is unknown and inexplicable.

The boy, Johan, is then placed outside when his aunt Ester starts to cough and choke and the door is closed on him. His curiosity takes him along the corridor for a series of brief glimpses into the other carriages, before he looks out of the window at the passing scenery and in a kind of dreamlike hallucination sees a series of tanks driving across the landscape.

The film takes place in a foreign called Timoka. There is a tremendous heat throughout the day, which lingers long into the night. The country appears to be either occupied or at war as suggested by the presence of the tanks, which add further weight to Bergman's battlefield. The elder sister, Ester is ill and takes to her bed, whereas the younger sister, Anna tries to cool down by taking a bath. This arouses the interest of her son and she asks him to wash her back.

Bergman's severity charges the film with such overt eroticism that almost everything becomes a reference to some latent sexuality, such as the boy puffing up his cheeks to make a faint screeching noise and then lying down in the soft cushions and raising his hand up into the air like a snake.

Then in a series of highly structured encounters, Bergman explores the degree of control each character has over another.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nettlewine VINE VOICE on 19 Nov. 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is the third film in Bergman's so-called "Faith" trilogy (with Through a Glass Darkly and WInter Light) and looks the best-realised of the three.
Two sisters spend time in a seedy hotel in an unspecified central European city while an unspecified military event takes place around them. Tempers fray as the frictions between the sisters come to the surface. One sister is sick and apparently a lesbian, the other is a single mother although sexually promiscuous.
Between them is her son, who goes on explorations around the hotel, encountering faintly bizarre characters.
The film is outrageously sensual and sexual, worryingly enough between the boy and his mother as much as anyone else, and also claustraphobic and sickening, as the ill sister's ailment takes hold. A foreigness takes hold of the centre of the film, with the sisters unable to communicate with each other and unable to speak the native tongue, thus adding to the claustraphobia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By technoguy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 May 2009
Format: DVD
The Silence is the last film in the 1st trilogy.After the austerity of the 2 previous films,Bergman lets rip with a cinematic sensuality of Felliniesque proportions. We are in a godless world where people don't communicate and a strange language is spoken. Sisters,Anna and Ester,have an incestuous relationship.Anna incarnates sensuality, Ester is spiritual and possessive, and is a translator. She is also very ill.On a train ride back to Sweden, they stop in a strange town, Timoka, due to Ester's need to rest somewhere.In a seedy, opulent hotel they rent two rooms and a bathroom.The film is done like a chamber piece,Bach playing in the background. The heart of the movie resides in Johan,the young son of Anna.He is a revelation. The atmosphere is like a cross between The Fallen Idol and The Shining. Johan wanders the vast corridors interacting with waiters,dwarfs,furniture,staircases andshadows. He is often left by his mother to wander.He seems the only,truly curious,exploratory,communicative intelligence, and offers a kind of hope,connecting with everybody and the wider world.

Ester dreads not getting home and dying alone.She drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes,often lying in bed or up typing, when not spying on her sister. Anna abandons her son and Ester, to go out and pick up a bar man in town, to escape from her clinging lesbian sister.She teases her with graphic details of her love making. They often argue with each other. Anna smoulders throughout like Anna Mangani.The lighting is impressive with a clever use of darkness and light.There are many close-ups and full head shots.This world has no transcendence only a clashing of egos.People make their own heaven and hell.The language cannot be understood.
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