‘The Silence’ 1963
I was so intrigued by this Ingmar Bergman film which I liked visually, and which completely arrested me, that I watched it for a third time in six days tonight. On Monday I searched the internet for reviews but didn’t come up with anything that gave me any significant further understanding of the obvious themes: a life lacking spirituality; living with loneliness and being part of a family and being lonely; disconnection with your most immediate world – your family – as well as the rest of the world; not believing in anything except the life of a boy, whose life is in the process of experiencing the things – events and emotions – that will make him who he is, And as part of that development he has two role models: one which lives for the pleasures and emotions; and one which lives in the world of knowledge. The former is Anna who lives to be touched and feel pleasure. The latter is Ester who knows many things about the world which are appreciated through study and learning. When Ester puts her head gently against Johan’s head she realises it is uncomfortable for him. She says, “Mummy’s the only one who may touch you, isn’t she?”
In a career which includes the religious ceremonies of the church, and their ministers, in all of the films I’ve seen, this is the film which is outside the church, the worship and the ministers and bishops and the indictments of a being’s behaviour. The two sisters judge each other, but the boy who is the spirit, doesn’t. He accepts them both whereas the God that Ingmar Bergman knows would reject them both.
This film’s judgment of the character comes from other people, not from a superior being. That’s unusual for Bergman.