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The Silence (1963)

Tystnaden (original title)
R | | Drama | 3 February 1964 (USA)
Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.

Director:

Ingmar Bergman

Writer:

Ingmar Bergman
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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ingrid Thulin ... Ester
Gunnel Lindblom ... Anna
Jörgen Lindström ... Johan
Håkan Jahnberg Håkan Jahnberg ... The Hotel Steward
Birger Malmsten ... The Waiter
Edit

Storyline

"The Silence" is about the emotional distance between two sisters. The younger one is still attractive enough to pick up a lover in a strange city. The older one -- even though she is very ill -- would like to make a human connection also but cannot leave the hotel room. Traveling with the sisters is a small boy who escapes into the hotel, meets a troupe of dwarfs. Which sister is this little boy's mother? Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Winner Swedish Film Academy Award Best Film of the Year 1963 See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Sweden

Language:

Swedish | English | German | French | Spanish

Release Date:

3 February 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Silence See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (AGA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last in Ingmar Bergman's trilogy about faith, preceded by Through a Glass Darkly (1961) and Winter Light (1963). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Johan: [points to a sign] What does that mean?
Ester: I don't know.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original UK cinema release featured the pre-edited US print which was then cut by a further 35 secs by the BBFC to shorten some shots of Ester stroking Anna's hair and to replace subtitled references to erections and semen. The 1999 Tartan video is the complete version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in There's Nothing Out There (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Coffee Bean Calypso
(uncredited)
Music by Dolf van der Linden (as Silvio Pinto)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
This is Bergman at his most disturbing.
2 April 2003 | by braugenSee all my reviews

"Tystnaden", "The Silence", is perhaps Bergman's most disturbing film without the shocking images of, say "Cries and Whispers" and "Fanny and Alexander". It is more the atmosphere and what is not said that makes this film so uncomfortable to watch, but that is one of the things I love about the cinema- to be shocked, moved and disturbed by the images. I can understand why some people, my mother for example, do not like Bergman, but I believe he is a great artist and one of the true canonic directors we have, along with the likes of Dreyer, Mizoguchi, Fellini, Tarkovsky and Kubrick (just to mention a few!).

Bergman's women shine in this film, too, although they must have been exhausted afterwards. Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom star as the two sisters, whose apparent incestuous relationship has destroyed them both, Esther (Thulin) physically (she is dying) and Anna (Lindblom) mentally. They arrive, with Anna's son Johan, in a foreign city at war, which creates an uncozy atmosphere around Sven Nykvist's exterior shots. The tanks roll down the city streets, becoming a metaphor of the war of emotions between Anna and Esther. Thulin makes a very physically demanding performance, like Harriet Andersson in "Cries and Whispers" she is dying (of cancer?), and her pain is showing. Anna clearly wants to hurt her sister, who is the oldest and smartest of them, by saying cruel things and playing with Esther's apparent sexual love for her.

Sigmund Freud would have loved this film, and Anna seems to want to break free from her sister by having casual sex with a man she meets at a bar. She then tells her sister about it, and Esther's reactions to this is extremely ambiguous, like most of the film is. Anna's wish to become free of her sister is deeply rooted in childhood experiences, and it leads Anna to say things like "I wish she was dead" to the man who does not understand a word she is saying. All these things make "Tystnaden" the disturbing film it is. The only release is when Johan explores the corridors of the hotel alone, meeting a bunch of short men who perform at a circus-like variete Anna visits to escape from the sight of Esther. But Johan meets a kind (or is he a paedophiliac?) old man who works at the hotel, and it is he who has to care for Esther as she draws her last breaths, Anna tearing Johan away from her sister's arm in a very cruel manner. The long periods of silence in the film perhaps makes the title, or perhaps it means that the silence about the sisters' past is never broken to us, the spectators. A lot is left up to us to interpret, typically of Bergman's cinema.

All in all, a very ambivalent, Freudian and disturbing film from one of the masters of the cinema.


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