This week, our writers discuss a film that speaks quietly to its audience and requires the recognition of the quiet intensity of the narrative. SILENCE (Pat Collins 2012) is about a sound recordist, Eoghan (Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride), who returns to Ireland after 15 years of living in Germany to record areas free of man-made sound. During his quest, he is influenced by folklore and a series of challenging encounters that reflect the intangible silence of his childhood. The film celebrates the beautifully poetic landscape of Ireland and the stories it has to tell.
THE SOUND AND THE SILENCE
There is one scene in SILENCE (Pat Collins 2012) that manages to encapsulate its entire story. While on the surface, SILENCE is about a man searching for a place without manmade noise, its true story is about returning to one’s past. When an unnamed man invites him to his mother’s old house, Eoghan (Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride) sings an old Tory Island ballad named “A Pháidí, a Grá’Trad” and provides the song’s context. The song was written by a young woman who wanted to use it to stop her beloved from emigrating, but was unsuccessful. The background of the song has a clear significance to him, as he states “Unless you know the story behind it, you don’t know what it’s about.” This one line summarises his own journey within the film, as the audience knows little about his life in Berlin, and so does not know his true motives in returning to his childhood home.
The film presents differing views on living in this childhood town. Eoghan wants to explore the world, as does a young boy he encounters who plans to move to the mainland for study. The unnamed man refers to his life on a small island as “the biggest infinity possible”, saying he feels “rooted”; a sentiment echoed by the other islanders Eoghan encounters. A view of the kitchen window looking out to the garden illustrates this perspective beautifully. The man walks out of a static shot, symbolising how he left his childhood home. After some time, he eventually returns to the shot: it is a visual depiction of his return to his mother’s home after her death. The camera lingers, signifying how the home he left will always remain the same, even if he has changed. The shot focuses on the background, where there is a huge tree with an old tyre swing attached to it. It is a tangible symbol of the childhood he now misses, and the life he returns to every time he comes back to his mother’s house.
Every day this week a different writer will provide their perspective on our MUBIVIEWS film and each post will be open to comments from our readers. Watch SILENCE on mubi.com until 25 April 2017 and join the discussion!
One MUBI film, five perspectives, endless possibilities.