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Sentinels of Silence (1971)

Centinelas del silencio (original title)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Narrator (Spanish)
Narrator (English) (voice)


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Documentary | Short








Release Date:

May 1971 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Sentinels of Silence  »

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Did You Know?


After this short film became the first to win Oscars for both Documentary/short subject and Short Subject/live action film, the Academy changed the rules the following year. Beginning with the 1972 awards, a short film could be considered for nomination in either category, but not both. From 1978-1993, all documentaries were ineligible for consideration in the Short Films category (Short Subjects was renamed Short Films in the 1974 awards year). Beginning with the 1994 awards, an animated documentary short subject may be submitted in either the animated short film category or the documentary short subject category, but not both. See more »

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User Reviews

A superb blend of music, imagery and history.
18 February 1999 | by (San Antonio Texas) – See all my reviews

There should be a video or DVD of this masterpiece. It won TWO Oscars, for goodness sake, so it can't be all bad. It combines exciting symphonic music with breathtaking aerial and ground photos of pre-Columbian archaeological sites in Mexico and elsewhere showing the haunting ruins of civilizations that have disappeared. The narrative calmly tells of the Maya and their superior astronomical science that calculated time by solar eclipses, resulting to a calendar more accurate than the one in use today. The Maya also used the number 0 in their mathematics. But what happened to them? Where did they go? The answer, of course, is that they are still here, living among the people of Mexico and Central America (Mexico is in North America in case you forgot). This is a wonderful cultural eye-opener that puts our neighbors in an entirely different light. I am surprised PBS or someone doesn't have this as a regular fixture in some history studies. Americans have too long been fascinated by the accomplishments of ancient Egypt. That is fine, but similar triumphs have occurred in our own back yard and we have all but ignored them. Where do you think the largest pyramid base (the pyramid was not completed) was constructed? It's still there. Sentinels of Silence spans an amazing amount of time, geography and architecture in 18 minutes. It needs to be released in video or disc and get some wider exposure. Its subject, message and images are all timeless.

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