Random Question: Not Quite Silent

I have already written a post for today. It was a list. But I’m sitting here bored, on my iPhone, trying to think of something to do. So I’ve decided to ask a Random Question, as I do sometimes. This one might require you to think back on your film experiences, but there’s nothing wrong with that, right?

Today I’d like to ask you: What are some (if any) of your favourite movies which have little to no dialogue and are focused more on what is happening visually rather than what is being spoken, or adversely, you could also name a film that relies heavily on dialogue with very little focus on visual images? Those are two questions I’d love you to answer. For the first one, silent movies do not count. It has to be a movie made with sound. Some of my favorites include, for the image-driven movies, films such as The Brown Bunny or Gerry. A favourite film of mine that mainly focuses on dialogue is Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry, which I shall be reviewing tomorrow, but then again, there are some long stretches without dialogue in that one too.

Anyway, forgive my rambling and just answer the question/s. This is just me posting something random but I’d really like to know what your thoughts are, and perhaps get some film recommendations.


Posted on November 8, 2011, in Movies, Random Question and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I need time to think of some, but I do know that I am a classics buff and I feel classic movies did this much more than movies today. The content was so good there could be huge gaps of silence and it still held your interest. Where as today it has to be constant sound, violence and special effects or it won’t hold the younger generations interest. I never really thought about it but I wonder if this is contributing to shortening this generations attention span

  2. The first question is tough. I can’t even think of any movie I’ve seen with little to no dialogue, let alone one I’ve liked (unless you want to make an arguement for something like Hero, which I wouldn’t).

    As for movies where the dialogue is the main draw, there are plenty of choices. I’m tempted to say Before Sunrise/Sunset, but those have plenty of brilliant touches in the acting that isn’t part of what’s spoken, so it doesn’t seem appropriate. No, I think I might go with Closer. That’s a film where the visual aspects really don’t matter much and the dialogue carries everything on its back. Plus it’s a teriffic film.

    • CLOSER’s good. I liked that one. My girlfriend refers to it as ‘the movie with the Clive Owen chatroom sex.’ I refer to it as ‘the movie with Natalie Portman looking sexy.’ Either way we both probably missed the point of the film, which probably is in it’s dialogue.

  3. Christian Hallbeck

    “The Silence” (Bergman), “Mother and Son” (Sokurov), “Blow-Up” (Antonioni), “L’Argent” (Bresson), “Mirror” (Tarkovsky).

    For example…

    I’m looking forward to your review on “Taste of Cherry”!

    • I’ve seen all of those except for the Tarkovsky and Sokurov choices, and I’d really like to see those two a lot. The Sokurov one especially.

      Review of TASTE OF CHERRY should hopefully be up later today. If not, it’ll be tomorrow, but it should be today.

  4. Sylvain Chomet’s Belleville and Illusionist. Watched both of those films without any subtitles and I love them, especially the former.

  5. Hi, Tyler and company:

    One of my favorite dialogue over visual images films is Sidney Lumet’s 1964’s ‘Fail Safe’. Which is shot almost completely where the action isn’t .

    Laced with some great close up, one on one between Henry Fonda’s President and a young Larry Hagman supplying translation for the Soviet Premier in a secure underground bunker with the first generation ‘Red Phone’.

    Creating a splendid, dramatic flip side to Stanley Kubrick’s comic ‘Dr. Strangelove…’.

  6. The films of Tati jump to mind first. Little to no dialogue in all his films, but tons of great visual gags. Play Time has the least amount of dialogue and it’s a wonderful, funny film.

  7. The middle thirty minutes of ‘Rififi’.

  8. CRIES AND WHISPERS comes to mind in terms of saying little but speaking volumes. PULP FICTION comes to mind in terms of saying much and speaking volumes.

  9. Two movies come to mind…

    Indian film PUSHPAK from 1989 which is a somewhat borderline silent film and I think was promoted as one too. Have a watch if you get a chance.

    So, the other “talking” film would be ELEPHANT which has a lot of dialogue but also long moments of silent where the camera simply follows the characters.

    • I’ve seen one of those, and I will add the other to my watchlist as I really like the sound of it. God I love ELEPHANT, but the two that bookend it in van Sant’s trilogy, GERRY and LAST DAYS, are much better at striking an emotional chord within the viewer.

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