Too much noise. Need more silence.
October 2, 2011 12:51 AM   Subscribe

I enjoy movies with extended scenes of silence between characters. Please recommend other entertainment in this vein.

I recently watched Valhalla Rising and I was absolutely enthralled. It made me realize that I'm a sucker for movies that feature scenes where the characters say absolutely nothing to each other. Looks may be exchanged. Tensions may build. But a suspended silence within the story actually forces me, as a viewer, to become more engaged. I project my assumptions, thoughts and hopes into the scene and onto the characters. I have to actively try to unpack what's going on. Yes, I enjoy this.

Please hive mind, tell me there is a genre of this sort that awaits me in either film or television.
posted by quadog to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Stranger Than Paradise
posted by mikeand1 at 12:53 AM on October 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

Andrei Tarkovsky's movies. Bela Tarr's movies.

Both are among the greatest oeuvres in cinema and both have long stretches without dialog in everything they've done, afaik.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:03 AM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Italian neorealists, De Sica, Visconti, and Rossellini - most of their movies feature a lot of this.
posted by smoke at 1:06 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

You probably already know this, but Drive was directed by the same director who directed Valhalla Rising. It has a similar scenes with looks and long pauses.
posted by sharkfu at 1:22 AM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

High and Low When the phone rings and everyone looks at each other wondering......
posted by blink_left at 1:37 AM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

The climax of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of course, as well as plenty of other Sergio Leone movies.
posted by xil at 2:12 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Samson and Delilah seemed to me to have a lot of long, evocative silences between characters. Actually, now that I think about it, so do a lot of films taking place in the Australian outback. Maybe the desert sucks up all urge to talk.
posted by forza at 2:18 AM on October 2, 2011

Ingmar Bergman's The Silence.
posted by bjrn at 2:38 AM on October 2, 2011

yeah, bergman (spoof)
posted by ouke at 3:01 AM on October 2, 2011

The American
posted by mullacc at 4:14 AM on October 2, 2011

Pulp Fiction

Also, Band A Parte
posted by empath at 4:44 AM on October 2, 2011

In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai.
posted by milarepa at 4:48 AM on October 2, 2011

">The last scene of Big Night.
posted by nicwolff at 5:08 AM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by nicwolff at 5:09 AM on October 2, 2011

Lost in Translation.
posted by littlesq at 5:09 AM on October 2, 2011

Vast swaths of Antonioni's work - but particularly the opening of L'Eclisse.
posted by Trurl at 5:29 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

And in terms of unpacking what's going on, in addition to working out the reverse chronology, nearly every line of Betrayal means more than is said.
posted by Trurl at 5:36 AM on October 2, 2011

Any movie directed by David Lean
Lawerance of Arabia
The Bridge over the River Kwai
Doctor Shivago
posted by Flood at 6:01 AM on October 2, 2011

posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:12 AM on October 2, 2011

Remains of the Day
posted by wwax at 6:13 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rififi has a justly famous heist scene, about 20 minutes long, entirely in silence. The suspense is incredible.
posted by Bromius at 6:38 AM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

I need to second the last scene from Big Night in which Stanley Tucci makes omelettes without saying a word. It was a perfect ending to a great movie.
posted by fso at 6:52 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gerry is a great one for this.
posted by venividivici at 6:56 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Aki Kaurismäki may be your new favorite director, particularly if you like some black humor with your silence.

I recommend starting with The Match Factory Girl.
posted by Wylla at 7:03 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

The World
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 7:06 AM on October 2, 2011

Old Joy has many scenes of extended silence between two old friends on a camping trip who realize they have sort of drifted apart.

Also not a movie, but I find the first few seasons of Mad Men to have a lot of tense scenes with no dialogue.
posted by windbox at 7:36 AM on October 2, 2011

Bergman's Persona with Liv Ullman.
posted by madstop1 at 7:59 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Makes me think of Mike Leigh's films
posted by abirdinthehand at 8:06 AM on October 2, 2011

Seconding Stranger Than Paradise strongly. When I watched it I kept having to rewind because the scene would change, I would be waiting for it to start, and then it changed again, and I realized I had never paid attention to it because no one had said anything yet.
posted by dfan at 8:12 AM on October 2, 2011

Paris, Texas
posted by flabdablet at 8:54 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thirding Stranger Than Paradise.

Warning that you should not watch Paris, Texas just after a romantic break-up.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:11 AM on October 2, 2011

I Am Love
posted by quiet coyote at 9:23 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have I got the movie for you!
posted by gern at 9:39 AM on October 2, 2011

You'll probably like The Station Agent ("Mr. McCarthy proves himself so crafty at making the unvoiced sentiments the heart of the film"; "McCarthy is fascinated in the silences found in everyday life, and his directorial debut is full of sweet, silent moments where the three main characters tell us so much with very little"). Here's director Tom McCarthy talking to NPR about silence:

On Patricia Clarkson's character's silence in The Station Agent

"I had some very good actors. To trust an actor in what they can do in space and with quiet and with stillness, I find that can be incredibly compelling for audiences. And on some level, there is an urge for writers to overwrite — to make dialogue a little more snappy than it usually is in real life. And I understand that. Some writers do that extremely, extremely well. I'm not quite that way. I just trust what I think are the natural rhythms of dialogue in conversation and have faith in that, wherever it may lead."

It's a great little film, one of my faves, full of silences, some more awkward than others, as it explores the slow-growing relationships between three outcasts.
posted by mediareport at 9:50 AM on October 2, 2011

The film Hukkle has almost no dialog and yet a lot happens. Its a mystery film at its heart.
posted by vacapinta at 10:17 AM on October 2, 2011

Lost In Translation, Drive, Somewhere
posted by Kololo at 10:37 AM on October 2, 2011

Hana-bi ("Fireworks") by Beat Takeshi
posted by gwint at 10:39 AM on October 2, 2011

Thanks for all the excellent ideas, everyone. Looking forward to watching these suggestions.
posted by quadog at 6:48 PM on October 2, 2011

Anything by Atom Egoyan, such as The Sweet Hereafter or Exotica.

These are probably actually not what you're looking for, but a lot of spy thrillers work in moments like this, such as 24 (in the first season you see so much of Sarah Clarke's eyes they're practically in need of their own credit) or parts of (I just watched this) The State Within. Also, a few older noir films have this sort of thing.

One of the great dialog-free scenes (in, some would say, a bad movie) is in Dressed to Kill -- a ten-minute sequence filmed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (playing the Met in NYC).
posted by dhartung at 10:01 PM on October 2, 2011

Henry Fool by Hal Hartley (any Hartley movie actually).
posted by dottiechang at 10:15 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's very little dialogue in the first half of Brokeback Mountain, as I recall.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:58 PM on October 3, 2011

The Secret of the Grain
posted by kjs4 at 5:15 PM on October 3, 2011

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