The controversy the film acquired for being sexually explicit resulted in a much larger audience than most Bergman pictures. When Bergman realized this, he commented that it had attracted the most unwanted viewers of any of his pictures.
The language in the movie is Bergman's own creation, though it has a Slavonic ring to it. The name of the city, which is indicated first in the train's speaker, and then by Anna, as Timoka, is a real word however. Bergman found it in a book in Estonian on the bookshelf of his wife Käbi Laretei. When he asked what it meant, she replied "belonging to the hangman".
The film was submitted to the rating bureau just weeks after the directions had been liberalized a bit: it went through without cuts, and made a real stir. It attracted huge audiences, was fiercely debated - and acquired a reputation for being the film that shot the first big hole in the "sex censorship wall" of Swedish movie making. Within five years, film censorship had become a formality. Voice where raised for the abolishment of censorship, but with the raising levels of film violence at the end of the 60's the opinion changed and where lesser on nudity and sex but very hard on film violence. State censorship was not abolished until 2011, 100 years after it's introduction.
The film attracted much international attention. In the United States "The Silence" was presented as a semi-pornographic film with review quotes from the Daily News; "On incest, self-defilement and nymphomania, this Bergman latest is the most shocking movie I have ever seen. I could not believe my eyes.". In Argentina the film's distributor was sentenced to one year imprisonment conditionally, while it was shown uncensored in Uruguay.