The controversy the movie acquired for being sexually explicit resulted in a much larger audience than most Ingmar Bergman films. 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 Gun Grut Bergman's creation. She was a translator and linguist in Slavic languages. 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.
At one point in the film, Ester and Johan are talking about how Johan will be staying at Granny's all summer and winter, then Ester says, "And you can go sailing with Uncle Persson." Jonas Persson and Karin Persson were characters in Winter Light (1963), the previous installment in Ingmar Bergman's "The Silence of God" trilogy.
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.
Ingmar Bergman drew inspiration from his radio play "The City", Sigfrid Siwertz's short story "The Dark Goddess of Victory", Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, and a recurring dream about a huge city.
The first drink that Ester (Ingrid Thulin) is drinking in the movie is Uzicka Prepecenica Sljivovica - popular strong liquor from Serbian town of Uzice. It remains in close-up for about 40 seconds. The label also indicates it was made in Yugoslavia.