Follow TV Tropes


Film / Tystnaden

Go To
Tystnaden is a 1963 film by Ingmar Bergman. Its English name is The Silence. It features Bergman's household stars Ingrid Thulin as Ester and Gunnel Lindblom as Anna, two sisters. Also starring is Jörgen Lindström playing the son of Anna.

The film is set during a voyage. Two sisters first go by train then they arrive at a town and stop at a hotel. Ester is seriously ill and she suffers from pain. Anna enjoys her life and is sexually active. Ester tries to discipline her sister although the later has a boy who travels with them. The viewer very often sees the events from the eyes of the boy.

Provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: The hotel is enormous but seems to have hardly anyone in it except Anna, Ester, Johan, and a troupe of Spanish little people.
  • The Alcoholic: Ester.
  • Bad Vibrations: The tank that shows up on the street below causes first a teacup and then the entire room to shake.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Ester has it for Anna even though both are clearly adult and it is the latter who is a mother in this film.
  • Conlang: The unidentified language spoken and written in the film is Bergman's invention.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cunning Linguist: Ester is a translator, and tries communicating with the waiter in English, French and German before resorting to Body Language. She starts trying to figure out the Foreign Language, but is soon too sick/drunk/sad to bother.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: There's a scene where Ester masturbates. Given her bed-ridden state it's probably the only way she can get sexual stimulation, in contrast to her promiscuous sister.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: The elder sister suffers of it and experiences agonizing pains. She survives until the end.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ester and Anna's discussion of the death of their father comes across as a rather thinly metaphor for faith.
    Anna: When Father died, you said "I don't want to live anymore." Why are you alive, anyway? For me? For Johan? Maybe for your work? Or for nothing in particular?
  • Advertisement:
  • Dying Alone: A very ill Ester is left behind by her sister and nephew at the end. Having only a man who doesn't speak a language she can understand for company, dying alone is most likely her final fate.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Ester is clearly older, she also suffers of some unnamed disease. So there are causes for her to be responsible. Anna is flirtatious and light-spirited in comparison.
  • Heat Wave: The tension between the two sisters is emphasized by the high temperatures. The heat prompts Anna to go back home, leaving Ester to die alone.
  • Hell Hotel: Possibly a literal case.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Anna uses the fact that her lover doesn't understand a word of what she's saying to open up about her feelings about her sister.
  • Hotter and Sexier: This film has quite a few more graphic sex scenes than your average Bergman.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: To those who know Estonian, Timoka, the name of the city the characters stop at, is this, as it means "pertaining to the executioner". It may be a hint to Ester's fate at the end.
  • Incest Subtext: The way Ester begs Anna not to go see her lover and how she kisses her on the cheek suggests that Ester's feelings for her younger sister are of a more sordid nature.
  • Language Barrier: The only word Ester and the waiter have in common is "music".
  • Little People Are Surreal: Indeed the dwarves who appear in the film render it a surreal mood.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Ester's speech near the end about how semen made her stink like a rotten fish and how she could not take on "the role" strongly suggests that Johan may actually be her son, not Anna's. But her speech still uses vague enough wording that it might not be the case. As usual with Bergman, there are no clear answers.
  • Oddball in the Series: Unlike the first two films in the "silence of God trilogy", this one features no instance whatsoever of the characters discussing God. But the title is supposed to be an allusion to God's absence anyway.
  • One-Word Title: And a meaningful of that. The film makes part of the "Silence of God Trilogy" alongside Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light, being its final installment. Thus a film becomes the titular one in the series.
  • Ontological Mystery: Played with. While they do know how they got there and how to leave, they don't seem to know (or care) where they are, or make much of an attempt at working it out
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Neither the fictional language of the unnamed country the sisters stay in nor the Spanish spoken by the dwarf performers is subtitled.
  • Ruritania: Timoka appears to be set here. The characters don't even seem to know what country they're in, simply calling the language "the foreign language".
  • Tanks for Nothing: Suddenly a tank can be seen in the street. Justified because it appears once and it does not have any effect on the plot.
  • Uncertain Doom: At the end, Ester is left behind at the hotel while Anna and Johan go back home. Ester is in very poor condition due to her disease, but whether she dies or not is up to interpretation.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: