- Actors: Cornelio Wall, Miriam Toews, Maria Pankratz, Peter Wall
- Directors: Carlos Reygadas
- Format: PAL, Widescreen, Colour, Subtitled
- Language: German
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Palisades Tartan
- DVD Release Date: 19 July 2010
- Run Time: 136 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- ASIN: B003OV2SIO
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,443 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Silent Light 
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Temptation proves too much for a member of a religious community in this drama directed by Carlos Reygadas. While living in a Mennonite community in Mexico, married father Johan (Cornelio Wall), admits to his wife Esther (Miriam Toews) that he's been having an affair with fellow member Marianne (Maria Pankratz). With adultery forbidden by his faith, Johan faces a deep moral dilemma, complicated further by his belief that he's falling in love with Marianne. The situation worsens when Johan's father, made aware of the situation, announces that Johan has fallen under the spell of the devil.
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Nevertheless, his disposition would stand that chap in good stead should he ever chance upon Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light. This film admits of - requires, even - an over-reaching to see meaning, and as such will not be everyone's cup of tea. I'm still not sure whether it was mine.
To be sure, there is a certain sort of buff to whom Silent Light will appeal greatly - he who is rejoices in straining to unpick a film-maker's message will be in heaven: such industry is obligatory since Carlos Reygadas has opted to communicate his message in the most eliptical way. Reygadas is, you see, an auteur (a fact which will fill you with glee or despair, depending on the significance you see imbued in things like three legged stools).
In many places, the Meaning of Silent Light is to be found not in dialogue (there isn't much) nor its delivery (the actors - real Mennonites - aren't professionally trained, and frequently may as well be reading out technical manuals for all their performances convey) nor, really, in what happens in the film (in fairness, after a *very* slow build up, things do happen), but rather how it is *seen* to happen.
There is meaning, that is, in frame composition. It is significant that the camera itself is often visibly part of the film - not just in camera position and width of angle (though they are frequently telling) but in the existence of lens flare, in that the camera itself pushes long grass off screen when tracking a character at ankle level, that its lens is spattered by water cascading off a tree and when a wide-angled tracking shot noticeably fish-eyes the parallel horizontals of a building. In a more careless film maker, you'd assume these were continuity errors, or at the most purely incidental relationships. Not, I suspect, here. There is a long slow shot (indeed, there are hundreds of long slow shots, but one in particular) forward out the windscreen of Johan's pickup - itself doubling as a visible lens - as he drives down a dirt road. When he turns off the road, the truck pivots around the camera as if it is on a gyroscope, the camera continuing to point on its original bearing, only now pointing at the side of Johan's face. The effect is that the viewer cannot help but be aware that there is a movie camera sitting on the passenger seat in Johan's truck. Cinematography 101 would teach that first principle of filmmaking is to create quite the opposite impression.
Not here: The lens constantly intrudes, and when it doesn't we see through windows, through windshields, through ajar doors into private affairs. We are always aware we are intruding.
What to be drawn from this? We are conscious, always, of the aperture - that we are observers, voyeurs in an intensely private world (an extramarital love affair) inside an intensely private world (a devoutly religious family) inside an intensely private world (a Mennonite comunity) and, like the camera, we shouldn't be there.
Profound, I suppose, but I'm not sure what finally to draw from it. I feel much the same way about the film as a whole.
There's something clever about this, but it's too clever: self-consciously self-conscious, and tiring - divining which production artefacts bear messages and which do not is hard, and exhausting. In many places I gave up.
I didn't understand, for example, the significance of a momentarily lost child, discovered safe and sound and watching an old recording of a Jacques Brel TV special, in French, in a van. Why? And why a long dead Belgian folk-singer? Could a director who takes such care to speak via lens flares and camera angles have been so careless to throw in such a scene apropos nothing? And what to make of the end, wherein a studiously realist film suddenly goes surreal, apparently capable only of figurative interpretation?
Some high brow critics loved this film - the one through whose recommendation I came to be watching it, Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times, was so taken by its luminescence to declare it "the impossible made possible by grace and faith" - but for me it was too empty for that. Much has been read into the celebrated opening and closing shots but, again, I couldn't quite see the cleverness (and as you'll notice, I'm prepared to be as creative/fanciful as the next chap in my interpretation), and so let dusk fall not that much wiser than I'd been when daylight broke a couple of hours previously.
Johan feels torn and tells his wife he has to see Marianne,so she tells him to take the children to the dentists too.He engineers it so that a man looks after the kids in his camper van with it's own TV set they can watch.He steals away and makes passionate love with Marianne for the last time.Marianne saying she is at her happiest and saddest since `Peace is stronger than love' and expresses pity for Esther.In a bleak driving scene in the pouring rain Esther asks to get out to vomit.She runs from the car to a tree and breaks down holding it.She has a sense of loss:she used to be a part of everything,fully alive next to Johan.Now heartbroken,she dies of heart attack.She is next laid up in a coffin after being washed by her mother while her family say their last good-byes.The community sing mournful hymns.He talks to Marianne saying he'd do anything to turn back time.Marianne asks to see Esther and tears drop onto Esther's cheek as Marianne kisses her.What follows is a kind of resurrection episode,but is probably metaphorical,a wish fulfilment happy ending.You can either reject or accept this ending but remember this has a religious setting.
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