Tystnaden (The Silence) (1963)

Original Title : Tystnaden
Director : Ingmar Bergman
Writer : Ingmar Bergman
Genre : Drama
Country : Sweden
Language : Swedish
Producer : Allan Ekelund
Music : Ivan Renliden
Photography : Sven Nykvist
Distributor : The Criterion Collection [us]
IMDB ID : 0057611
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poster for "Tystnaden (The Silence)" by Ingmar Bergman (1963)
Tystnaden (The Silence) (1963) - Ingmar Bergman


Ingrid Thulin Ester
Gunnel Lindblom Anna
Birger Malmsten The Bartender
Håkan Jahnberg The Waiter
Jörgen Lindström Johan rest of cast listed alphabetically
Lissi Alandh Woman in variety hall (uncredited
Karl-Arne Bergman The paper boy (uncredited
Leif Forstenberg Man in variety hall (uncredited


"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?


The words abandonment, loneliness, longing, neglect, selfishness and miscommunication spring to mind. Sisters Ester and Anna are vacationing in a strange town with Anna's ten year old son, Johan. The story begins after a change has occured in Anna, her patience with the stifled life she is implied to have led has imploded, leaving all participants lost and empty. Academically overshadowed by her older sister, Anna has reache her limits in being controlled and obsessed over by the domineering Ester. This control has apparently been sexual as well as psychological. The Silence, (which is not so much a story about emotion and interpersonal relationships as it is about the lack thereof), operates a lot through context and circumstances unseen by us, but which are expressed by the conflicting characters. Sickness of body and mind ooze their way into the themes, inescapably dominating them. None of the characters understand each other, or even seem to care about anyone but themselves. In order the distract themselves from the emptiness of their relationships, they each search hopelessly for interest elsewhere. Ester in her bottomless glass of vodka, Johan in the vast hallways of the unchartered hotel, and Anna in the arms of a stranger who's language she cannot understand. The elder sister Ester has adisease of the lungs which is slowly killing her, probably tuberculosis. Her death imminent, she is destined never to return home. A translator, she attempts to communicate with the hotel waiter via. French, German, English and Swedish, none of which the locals understand. One has to wonder why the distanced family has travelled to this orifice of isolation at all. But this is not a film that answers questions, it simply presents a psychological horror story, a breakdown of communication on every human level. Looking out the window Ester watches a ragged, skeletal horse heave an enormous carriage full of furnature up and down the cramped, dusty streets below. While a stopwatch ticks restlessly in the background, the bored Johan searches the corridors for something to do, stopping to urinate against a wall. The ancient waiter shows him a bizarre collection of photo's he has of corpses in coffins. Aside from a dazzling pair of eyes, Anna has very little of interest about her. She is selfish, cold, shallow and desperate for admiration. Disturbing movie. The usual Bergman brilliance.
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Tystnaden (The Silence) (1963) - Ingmar Bergman
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Tystnaden (The Silence) (1963) - Ingmar Bergman
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Tystnaden (The Silence) (1963) - Ingmar Bergman
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Tystnaden (The Silence) (1963) - Ingmar Bergman