10 Movies That Prove Silence Is Golden

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Great dialogue is often considered the centerpiece of modern movies. But with 25 minimalist spoken lines, A silent place made it clear that amazing movies are still being created that don’t rely on dialogue to tell their story. Some use the score to help communicate, some use sign language, and some simply let the words be read from the faces or actions of the actors on screen.

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Whether it’s an entire movie or a harrowing, pivotal moment in the plot, there are fantastic movies that prove there’s real power in the unsaid word.

All is Lost (2013)


Robert Redford is alone at sea in All Is Lost

All is lost is the perfect film to demonstrate that no dialogue is needed to tell a great story. It’s quite captivating to watch Our Man (Robert Redford) alone and lost at sea, desperate to be rescued. The only words spoken in the entire film come in the form of a moving moment of voice-over work, as Our Man reads a letter to the people he will miss if he doesn’t return.

His silence allows the audience to focus on his heroic efforts to return to safety while acting as a lingering reminder of the terrible loneliness of fate that threatens him.

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Love Drunken Punch (2002)


Speechless Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love

The opening scene of Love Drunk Punch is a great example of why PT Anderson was hailed as a visionary director. In the first scene of the film, Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) helplessly watches a dramatic car crash and the superficial abandonment of a harmonium play out in front of him.

It’s a brilliant setup for the story to come, immersing audiences directly into Egan’s clumsy life. His silence is typical of his helplessness, and the violent interruption of the car crash portends the anger and disruption of his life to come.

CODA (2021)


CODA's Emilia Jones leans out of a car

While he was Oscar winner CODA isn’t short on spoken dialogue, it does more to honor unspoken communication than any recent film by placing a deaf family at its heart. The deaf community is deeply underrepresented in the speech-obsessed film industry, and CODA is a welcome game changer.

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The power and efficiency of CODA fantastic non-verbal performances prove that a silent world can still enjoy deep connection through both sign language and body language.

Mission Impossible (1996)


Tom Cruise breaks into a CIA safe in Mission Impossible

When Impossible missionspy extraordinaire Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must break into a secure CIA room equipped with heat, sound and pressure sensors, movie magic has proven that the squeaking of strings is the only noise you need to produce one of the scenes most iconic of all time.

Not only was the vault scene almost completely without any dialogue, it was also entirely without music. The filmmakers used the oppressive silence to heighten the tension, a big reason the scene was remembered so well in parodies and other heist films.


The Revenant (2015)


Leonardo DiCaprio alone in nature in The Revenant

When Hugo Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) was left for dead after a bear attack at the home of Alejandro G. Iñárritu The ghost, little dialogue and a lot of desperation move the plot forward. Instead of other actors, Iñárritu’s camera becomes DiCaprio’s silent companion documenting his harrowing journey.

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The lack of dialogue in Glass’ solitude compounds the remoteness and wildness of her predicament, almost creating a character from the silent landscape. It underscores how dangerous and lonely the frontier was, and what a valuable resource other humans are.

Wall-E (2008)


Pixar's Wall-E Robot Gazes at the Stars

In a film made primarily for children, it’s a wonder that Wall-E can pull it off with little dialogue. Wall-E, a low-tech robot with a limited vocabulary, offers a full spectrum of emotions expressed through the little guy’s few words and his adorable mechanical eyes.

When the audience is finally subjected to pointless human chatter forty minutes later, it’s easy to appreciate the sweet efficacy of Wall-E’s few sentences. In addition to the relative silence of Wall-E, the expressive beeps and bops of the support bot cast help make Wall-E one of Pixar’s most beloved stories.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)


Kier Dullea's Dave Bowman in space suit in 2001: A Space Odyssey

There is no doubt that Stanley Kubrickit’s epic 2001: A Space Odyssey stands out for its revolutionary use of sound. The now-famous classical score fills in until the first spoken lines are delivered for a full 25 minutes in the film, with an almost as long non-dialogue portion at the end.

Not only does the silence of the film bring out the feeling of isolation in space, but there is incredible power when the only sounds are the menacing monotones of the HAL computer paired with the breathing of the only surviving astronaut, Dave, who fights to die out. the mad machine.


The Red Balloon (1956)


The seemingly sentient red balloon waits for its baby boy outside the window

The red ball is an award-winning short film by French director and writer Albert Lamorisse about a young boy and his trusty balloon. There are a few spoken lines, but most of the story is told as a child’s silent memory, accompanied only by sound effects and a score.

Far from being a simple children’s tale, the film contrasts the hope of post-war Europe with its drab atmosphere. The adventure of the bright red balloon dancing through the gray streets of Paris is a symbol of unblemished hope. The red ball is pure cinematic storytelling.

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)


The crowd watches the bike race in Les Triplettes de Belleville

The animated movie The Triplets of Belleville is an evocative example of music and sound effects taking the place that dialogue would normally fill. Audiences are treated to a wonderful score of French folk music, along with charming background sounds such as small town crowds, the mechanical din of an elevated train, and even old ladies’ shoes on wooden floors.

The absence of dialogue allows the wonderful animation to occupy the attention. The oversized eyes behind goggles, the absurdly large leg muscles of a biker, and the provincial shape of the townspeople’s bodies tell the charming story.

Children of Men (2006)


A baby is guided out of a war zone in Children of Men

A baby’s cry is almost never welcome, but in director Alfonso Cuarón’s adaptation of children of men, it’s the only sound worth hearing. Like Theo (Clive Owen) and Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) fight their way through a war-torn city holding the first baby born in 18 years, only the power of the crying baby they carry silences the guns.

There are no words that could more deeply express the joy and hope of a much-desired baby. Spectators, civilians and soldiers alike, recognize that the moment requires silent reverence, giving the scene strong emotion.

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