Another aspect of my Catholic upbringing that I recall from my childhood days are Lenten Services which, apart from this obscure Italian movie emanating from the twilight years of the great German director G. W. Pabst, I do not think I have really ever seen dealt with in the cinema. For the uninitiated, Ash Wednesday inaugurates a period of solemnity, penance and contemplation for devout Christians all around the world that effectively ends on Easter Sunday. During this time, one is expected to give up on some of his daily cravings especially for sweets and dessert – equivalent to the 40 days of fasting that Jesus Christ spent in the desert by himself. Likewise, Christians are called to Church for special meetings called Lenten Services – that are generally sorted by category: married couples, singles, senior citizens, professionals, religious societies, social clubs, etc. – in which they reflect on The Gospel and how it applies to the world today. Well, VOICE OF SILENCE brings together several Italians to one such meeting for professionals presided over by an elderly priest (Eduardo Ciannelli): politician Jean Marais, candle manufacturer Aldo Fabrizi, former soldier Daniel Gelin, a pulp novelist and even a thief! Gradually, we come to realize that each member of the congregation has his own personal demon to confront – Marais cannot bring himself to forget (or forgive) that one of his sabotage missions while with the Resistance caused the death of 3 innocent civilian bystanders; Fabrizi's trade is being threatened by a loss in demand due to the introduction of synthetic candles; Gelin is not only tubercular but, having been given up for dead, cannot bear the humiliation of seeing his former wife walking around the streets of Rome with her new husband and their kids; the novelist sets out to write the Great Italian Novel but, begrudgingly and on the advise of his Macchiavellian agent (Paolo Stoppa), countered continual rejection by selling himself short and give the common people the lurid reading material they seemed to hunger for, and so on. Within the Church walls themselves, a young priest is having a faith crisis and is almost on the point of quitting his calling before fate intervenes in the film's closing sequence. As usual, the rotund, bug-eyed Fabrizi can be relied upon to provide fleeting moments of hilarity as he forms an unlikely alliance with the thief, in an attempt to come out on top of his particular dilemma – despite the imposition of enjoying no contact with the outside world throughout the duration of the Services. In his first of two films that he made in Italy, Pabst has (for the most part) understandably relinquished the visual stylistics that had made him a force to be reckoned with during the Silent/early Talkie era but, while perhaps being a minor work within his distinguished canon, VOICE OF SILENCE is still sufficiently well-acted, sensitively handled and altogether unusual to make it a satisfactory viewing.