What Do Movies Say When They Say Nothing at All: A Video Essay

Some­times less is more. Some­times silence says more than words or sound itself. John Cage knew it. Dit­to our finest film­mak­ers. That’s the take­away from When Words Fail in Moviesa new video essay that stitch­es togeth­er 15 scenes from icon­ic films by Hitch­cock, Kubrick, Felli­ni and oth­ers. Cre­at­ed by David Verdeure at Film­scalpel, the clip lets us med­i­tate on “the mean­ing­ful use of silence” in the sound-film era. Fan­dor has pulled togeth­er a list of scenes used in the mon­tage. Find them below:

The Matrix, dir. Lana Wachows­ki and Lil­ly Wachows­ki. Sil­ver Pic­tures, USA, 1999. 136 mins.
The God­fa­ther: Part III, dir. Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la. Zoetrope Stu­dios, USA, 1990. 162 mins.
Mon Oncle, dir. Jacques Tati. Spec­ta films et al., France, 1958. 117 mins.
2001: A Space Odyssey, dir. Stan­ley Kubrick. Stan­ley Kubrick Pro­duc­tions, UK / USA, 1968. 149 mins.
Lost in Trans­la­tion, dir. Sofia Cop­po­la. Amer­i­can Zoetrope et al., USA, 2003. 101 mins.
On the Water­front, dir., Elia Kazan. Hori­zon Pic­tures et al., USA, 1954. 108 mins.
The Grad­u­ate, dir. Mike Nichols. Lawrence Tur­man, USA, 1967. 106 mins.
The Lone­li­ness of the Long Dis­tance Run­ner, dir. Tony Richard­son. Wood­fall Film Pro­duc­tions, UK, 1962. 104 mins.
North by North­west, dir. Alfred Hitch­cock. Metro-Gold­wyn-May­er, USA, 1959. 136 mins.
In the Mood for Love, dir. Wong Kar-Wai. Block 2 Pic­tures et al., Hong Kong / Chi­na, 2000. 158 mins.
The Mar­t­ian, dir. Rid­ley Scott. Scott Free Pro­duc­tions et al., USA, 2015. 144 mins.
The Dis­creet Charm of the Bour­geoisie, dir. Luis Buñuel. Green­wich Film Pro­duc­tions, France, 1972. 102 mins.
The Con­ver­sa­tion, dir. Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la. Amer­i­can Zoetrope et al., USA, 1974. 113 mins.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, dir. David Lynch. Twin Peaks Pro­duc­tions et al., USA, 1992. 135 mins.
La Dolce Vita, dir. Fed­eri­co Felli­ni. Ria­ma Film et al., Italy, 1960. 180 mins.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Cage Per­forms His Avant-Garde Piano Piece 4’33” … in 1’22” (Har­vard Square, 1973)

Thomas Edison’s Silent Film of the “Fartiste” Who Delight­ed Crowds at Le Moulin Rouge (1900)

101 Free Silent Films: The Great Clas­sics

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.