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The Silence - The Ex-Communicator

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November 30th, 2011


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02:30 pm - The Silence
The Silence (Das letzte Schweigen) is a German film. I saw it last night. It's a sad, painful police procedural, with strong characterisation, and a sense of emptiness and futility. So, quite in the tradition of recent Northern-European crime drama, like Wallander and The Killing and so on. However it's different from either in its visual style. The colour is very bright and saturated (it's July); the setting is affluent and semi-rural. The story is told economically through a series of one or two person scenes, but I could imagine the same plot being strung out into a long TV series.

The first scene is set in 1986. Two men with paedophile tendencies egg each other on to kill an 11 year old girl. One, the slightly less culpable, runs away and makes a new life. 23 years later there is a copycat murder, and this leads to the two men making contact again. The policemen previously involved in the case revisit their investigation. The terrible grief of the newly and previously bereaved parents is explored. Just about everyone in the film, including the murderers, is full of sadness all the time.

I have a theory - I don't suppose it's original - that police procedurals are a dramatisation of our feelings about work, via universalising issues - everyone cares about murder. The particular aspect of working life which is dramatised here is the fact that we must bring our emotions to work with us, to function, but there is no place for them at work. People in this film are embarrassed and shamed by emotions. The more good and authentic people are scruffy and twitchy, and out of step. The retired cop calls on the clever cop, in the middle of the night, and the clever cop is wearing his dead wife's nightie, with a tweed jacket pulled over it. This is not remarked upon. The nightie is his emotion on show, his bereavement.

Very brave of the two actors who play the paedophiles. The small amounts of the film which show their actions are rather circumspect and oblique: some might find it too upsetting to watch, or even exploitative, but I didn't think it was. Terribly sad though.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:sheenaghpugh
Date:November 30th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
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Is thee any obvious reason they changed the title? "The Last Silence" presumably has a particular meaning in the context?
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From:communicator
Date:November 30th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
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It's an interesting question, and I don't know. The meaning might relate to the two paedophiles keeping their silence for so many years, and the silence of death I suppose.

I didn't know what the title meant, and tried to use Google to translate it. That was an interesting example of the new Google translate algorithm, which uses other references on the web to find 'the most popular' translation of a group of words. Google translated 'Das letzte Schweige' as 'The Silence' because since the film was releasedthat must be the most common 'translation' online, but obviously it's not actually a true translation.

I had to translate letzte on its own to find out that it meant 'last'. I don't know any German at all.

Edited at 2011-11-30 05:19 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:sheenaghpugh
Date:November 30th, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
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It happened with The Reader too. "The reader" could mean either the boy who reads books to the woman, or the woman who learns to read. But the German title is Der Vorleser - the one who reads aloud - and is unequivocally male.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:November 30th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
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That is a problem with gendered languages.
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From:sheenaghpugh
Date:November 30th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Ah, but I don't think it was in this case. The German was after all the original and I think it genuinely wanted to make clear that it was the man's story.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:December 1st, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
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Ah, sorry, hadn't realised German was the original. I do like the added ambiguity in the English translation, though.
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From:tehomet
Date:December 4th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for the review. It does sound good.
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From:communicator
Date:December 4th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
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I haven't seen a German film for ages. The previous one was probably The Lives of Others - which is fantastic. But this one is pretty good, as a crime film.

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