Moments of Silence in Modern Film

Columnist Jason Bailey at Flavorwire has put together a list of 10 notable sequences in sound films that choose moments to go silent. On the heels of award nominations for “The Artist,” telling a silent story of the end to the silent era, the article notes that “countless sound directors have used silent storytelling techniques to great effect, eschewing dialogue (and sometimes even sound effects) to work through their narrative beats via purely visual means.”

Number 4 on their list was “Le Samouraï” (1967), along with “There Will Be Blood” at number 10. See their article for all.

Any other favorites in feature film? How about short, broadcast, or online content?


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site


This is something that I’m always looking for in Animated Films especially, because I feel like in animation especially nowadays there is a tendency to have the characters ALWAYS talking, and it is extraordinarily rare to have moments of silent exchange between characters. How to Train Your Dragon manages to eek out a few great moments of silent exchange between Astrid & Hiccup, the ending of Toy Story 3 of course, the dramatic moment when the toys come face to face with death, and similarly, acceptance. And of course, the montage in Act 1 of “Up”, told purely through music & visual. Great moments, carried purely on visual without desire for actors voices.

David Badgerow #

Thanks for your comment, David! Glad to hear your perspective on this topic and be reminded of examples from modern animated film. I can only imagine the pressure to maximize every frame for a generation further from the days of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote’s silent exchanges.

Aaron Proctor #

Definitely. I really need to see “The Illusionist”, the French Animated Feature from 2010, virtually a completely silent movie the entire way through, told on visuals. I hear it is something to behold. And I suppose I also should have mentioned Pixar’s longest silent-movie moment to date which is of course *most* of Wall-E. Pretty rad.

David Badgerow #

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