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Silent Light [Import]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Cornelio Wall, Maria Pankratz, Miriam Toews, Peter Wall, Jacobo Klassen
  • Directors: Carlos Reygadas
  • Writers: Carlos Reygadas
  • Producers: Carlos Reygadas, Frans van Gestel, Jaime Romandia, Jean Labadie, Jeroen Beker
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Import
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Vivendi Entertainment
  • Release Date: Sept. 8 2009
  • Run Time: 136 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B002C8YSDI

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 31 2009
Format: DVD
The famous Mexican film director, Reygada, has produced a real provocative movie that examines life inside a modern Mennonite community in Chihuahua, Mexico. His attention focuses on the dysfunctionality that can often occur within a family that is ruled by dominant male figures and rigid religious constraints. Johan and his wife, Esther, after a number of years of apparent marital stablility where she has borne seven children, are about to separate. Johan is seeing another woman in the colony, and Esther is helpless to win back his affections. Her problem is that she is unable to offer him the intimate female affection he so much craves and needs as the head of the household. As the film slowly progresses, the audience gets to both see and feel that rift getting ever wider. In desperation, Johan reaches out to church elders and father for help to heal his broken marriage, but all he receives are pious words of admonition and encouragement. On their way to town to effect a separation agreement, Johan and Esther encounter one of those Road to Damascus experiences that transform the story into a mystical allegory of sorts. In the middle of a vicious storm, their marriage literally comes to an end in a field. Heavy symbolism takes over through the resurrecting powers of peace working themselves out in Johan's grief -and guilt- filled life. My advice to anyone watching this movie is not take the concluding scene of Esther's funeral literally but, instead, look for some underlying meaning that will put a positive construction on this heretofore tragic story. While some might think that Reygadas has opted for a cheezy end, I think otherwise.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Rhythms of nature and desire - a stunningly beautiful and austere new film by Carlos Reygadas July 4 2009
By Nathan Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Johann has a problem. He has a wife and children who he loves, and another woman who loves him and who he can't stop thinking about. The Mennonite community in Mexico that is the backdrop for this story has a culture built on attempts to escape from the urgency of the clock, and pattern life according to a rhythm that respects nature and the sacred. But there are other urgencies that are hard to avoid.

Film critic Gilberto Perez (The Material Ghost), wrote that the best filmmakers are not satisfied with veneer or plausibility, but seek from reality "something richer and stranger, of more potency and consequence, but also, in that measure, harder to deal with coherently, more resistant to articulate arrangement." Reygadas is in my opinion one of those filmmakers whose work doesn't feel like it is trying to teach you something or to entertain you or to make you feel something specific, but who seeks with each film to discover something real. Not so much to tell a story as to let a story tell itself, to let human being and nature show itself in all its strangeness and wonder.

The opening scene of this film is among the most powerful I've seen. On the one hand it is unsettling and disorienting to be cast into the darkness of the open sky and twirled slowly with no sense of where we stand in space or time. On the other hand, this incredible opening shot serves to orient us as viewers. Before it is clear what is going on, that it is early morning and we are witnessing the emergence of light from the darkness, the sounds of crickets and a breeze and the groaning of the cattle begin to ground the film, to place what is to take place in and among the natural rhythms of the Earth.

The next image, however, serves to remind us that here on Earth we people tend to govern our lives according to a different scale than that which operates in nature, the rhythm of the sun and moon and stars, of day and night, of the seasons, of birth and growth and death. We pattern our lives after the artificial scales measured by the clock, by the calendar that tells us when to celebrate and the laws that tell us when to pay taxes, by the ordinances and regulations and habits and customs and prejudices that tell us when to get up when to go to work, how and when to follow our desires, how and with whom we can share our lives and feelings.

What impresses me about this film is that nothing seems contrived. Nothing seems to be there simply to be looked at, the camera does not feel like either a voyeur or a judge. A scene of intimacy is not there to arouse the viewer, or to create a sense of vicarious satisfaction -- like all real sex (not the fake sex that sells products or pornography), it is awkward and estranging to watch, the scene reminds us that sex is a strange thing, like all real sex it means something only for the participant. Once again, Gilberto Perez writes that the difficulty of engaging with the real in film is that "the closer the engagement with reality, the more difficult the task of giving it form and meaning ... [but] the risk of incoherence must be run, unruly reality met on a ground close enough to its own for its energies and its resistance to come into play. Only by contending with its resistance can a filmmaker derive from its energies, and arrange into expressive structures, a vividness and force that tell on the screen.".

By setting a familiar story into this unfamiliar world, that seems so different than the urban and suburban settings that at least in the movies tend to generate the boredom that results in infidelity, by setting this familiar story against such a rich natural backdrop, director Carlos Reygadas (Japon,Battle In Heaven) gives us insight into what strange and remarkable creatures we are, how we are at once very much animals with passions we cannot understand and how we work so hard to hide this from ourselves, that we must eat and drink and sleep and that our desires are not always compatible with our attempts to regulate desire and that we live and die according to forces we do not control and cannot predict.

The dvd includes a short feature on the making of the film, and some deleted scenes.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Rhythms of nature and desire - a stunningly beautiful and austere new film by Carlos Reygadas May 19 2009
By Nathan Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Johann has a problem. He has a wife and children who he loves, and another woman who loves him and who he can't stop thinking about. The Mennonite community in Mexico that is the backdrop for this story has a culture built on attempts to escape from the urgency of the clock, and pattern life according to a rhythm that respects nature and the sacred. But there are other urgencies that are hard to avoid.

Film critic Gilberto Perez (The Material Ghost), wrote that the best filmmakers are not satisfied with veneer or plausibility, but seek from reality "something richer and stranger, of more potency and consequence, but also, in that measure, harder to deal with coherently, more resistant to articulate arrangement." Reygadas is in my opinion one of those filmmakers whose work doesn't feel like it is trying to teach you something or to entertain you or to make you feel something specific, but who seeks with each film to discover something real. Not so much to tell a story as to let a story tell itself, to let human being and nature show itself in all its strangeness and wonder.

The opening scene of this film is among the most powerful I've seen. On the one hand it is unsettling and disorienting to be cast into the darkness of the open sky and twirled slowly with no sense of where we stand in space or time. On the other hand, this incredible opening shot serves to orient us as viewers. Before it is clear what is going on, that it is early morning and we are witnessing the emergence of light from the darkness, the sounds of crickets and a breeze and the groaning of the cattle begin to ground the film, to place what is to take place in and among the natural rhythms of the Earth.

The next image, however, serves to remind us that here on Earth we people tend to govern our lives according to a different scale than that which operates in nature, the rhythm of the sun and moon and stars, of day and night, of the seasons, of birth and growth and death. We pattern our lives after the artificial scales measured by the clock, by the calendar that tells us when to celebrate and the laws that tell us when to pay taxes, by the ordinances and regulations and habits and customs and prejudices that tell us when to get up when to go to work, how and when to follow our desires, how and with whom we can share our lives and feelings.

What impresses me about this film is that nothing seems contrived. Nothing seems to be there simply to be looked at, the camera does not feel like either a voyeur or a judge. A scene of intimacy is not there to arouse the viewer, or to create a sense of vicarious satisfaction -- like all real sex (not the fake sex that sells products or pornography), it is awkward and estranging to watch, the scene reminds us that sex is a strange thing, like all real sex it means something only for the participant. Once again, Gilberto Perez writes that the difficulty of engaging with the real in film is that "the closer the engagement with reality, the more difficult the task of giving it form and meaning ... [but] the risk of incoherence must be run, unruly reality met on a ground close enough to its own for its energies and its resistance to come into play. Only by contending with its resistance can a filmmaker derive from its energies, and arrange into expressive structures, a vividness and force that tell on the screen.".

By setting a familiar story into this unfamiliar world, that seems so different than the urban and suburban settings that at least in the movies tend to generate the boredom that results in infidelity, by setting this familiar story against such a rich natural backdrop, director Carlos Reygadas (Japon,Battle In Heaven) gives us insight into what strange and remarkable creatures we are, how we are at once very much animals with passions we cannot understand and how we work so hard to hide this from ourselves, that we must eat and drink and sleep and that our desires are not always compatible with our attempts to regulate desire and that we live and die according to forces we do not control and cannot predict.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Basically Perfect. Oct. 15 2009
By Mark Twain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Silent light is one of the most (if not the most) beautiful movies of the last 10 years. It has a certain grace, story, look, authenticity, and pureness that all make this film so unique and wonderful. This is a love story that is subtle, without melodramatic over acting, but the message is strong and vibrant. I can't really describe it in words very well, it's the kind of movie that really transports you to and makes you feel like you are there, really emphasizing on the characters and space. It makes you feel that the director REALLY knows what hes doing, and that he got it right. Technically there are some scenes that make you think, "how did they do that, that was amazing", or "that shot was awesome". It's a drama, yet there are some little funny moments because it feels so real, and just like real life, funny things happen even when were sad. If your looking for GOOD movie, that doesn't JUST entertain, then give this one a go! There is nothing else like it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The best in world cinema April 25 2010
By technoguy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This film acts like a purgation of the junk-fest sensation and cliché language and plots of our normal cinema.It takes us out of the real world and puts our senses through a sieve, through a habit of perfection,distilling an uncreated light. There is a movement in world cinema, to utilise non-professional actors and natural light together.The opening (and closing) shots open us up to a slow action shot almost in real time from constellations in a black sky to dawn shots of the rising sun,with all the attendant sounds of crickets,cicadas and cattle lowing.This is a filtered and idealised human nature set in a Mennonite community of Plautdiesh -speaking people who are attuned to the season's cycles, through cattle farming and crop harvesting.The film is composed of beautiful tableaus of widescreen natural vistas,earth and sky meeting on wide horizons, well captured on the many driving sequences,backed up with a soundscape of waving grass and trees,crickets,birds and running water. Johan is sitting with his wife and six children giving silent grace with a ticking clock. Beneath the harmonious surface there is tension between the couple.His wife Esther takes the children out and he breaks down in tears when alone. He has been having a two year affair with Marianne,another Mennonite (single)female.The imagery in this film induces a kind of trance-like contemplation. His infatuated mood expresses itself through him driving round his friend Zackaria to some raunchy music.He goes on to meet Marianne in a long kissing scene which ends in them making love.He is well supported by his friend and father,who thinks it is fate or the devil's work but does not condemn him.Johan thinks every man makes his own fate. We cut to a beautiful scene of the family bathing together. In such scenes the inner peace in the community is brought out.But his wife who he has told of his infidelity is close to tears as she loves him just as he does her,but he feels God intended Marianne for him.We see the family at a cornharvest in some stunning scenes and the machine moving through the fields of corn.Johan,Esther and the kids say silent grace by their pick-up.

Johan feels torn and tells his wife he has to see Marianne,so she tells him to take the children to the dentists too.He engineers it so that a man looks after the kids in his camper van with it's own TV set they can watch.He steals away and makes passionate love with Marianne for the last time.Marianne saying she is at her happiest and saddest since `Peace is stronger than love' and expresses pity for Esther.In a bleak driving scene in the pouring rain Esther asks to get out to vomit.She runs from the car to a tree and breaks down holding it.She has a sense of loss:she used to be a part of everything,fully alive next to Johan.Now heartbroken,she dies of heart attack.She is next laid up in a coffin after being washed by her mother while her family say their last good-byes.The community sing mournful hymns.He talks to Marianne saying he'd do anything to turn back time.Marianne asks to see Esther and tears drop onto Esther's cheek as Marianne kisses her.What follows is a kind of resurrection episode,but is probably metaphorical,a wish fulfilment happy ending.You can either reject or accept this ending but remember this has a religious setting.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Silent Light and Ordet's Light Sept. 8 2009
By TravellerThruKalpas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Michael Ondaatje once said that there is a limit to what films can do in getting below the surface of things. This might well be said of Silent Light. On first reflection it seems a mystery how this film, the third by Carlos Reygadas, actually manages to work some magic on the viewer without recourse to establishing conventional feelings for its characters. There is no script here which allows a way of rendering people in any depth whatsoever; dialogue is spare, relaying information in brief clusters of signifying words. "This is the last time... Peace -- is stronger than love... Poor Esther," a character says after lovemaking. The very fact that dialogue relays information stiltedly, instead of communicating in a more natural way, is a stylistic attenuation which doesn't build a convincing case for itself in the course of the film, though eventually a bare minimum of dialogue does enable us to discern the basic dilemma here: the issues a married man faces in keeping a mistress (or not) in a specific sectarian community.

On the other hand, within this sense of economy there is a vital sense of how light affects appearances -- all the varying qualities of light as those which in themselves might generate emotion. But that this happens to the extent which is fulfilling as an experience, as many critics seem to think, is questionable. Here, characters function as IMAGES of people -- rather than AS fully-dimensional people -- just as trees and landscapes function in most films as images of trees and landscapes, that is, without further requirements. There is a kind of purity resulting in all of this, and it's as if a mystery of the generic (not archetype) is revealed: as if each image appears as a pure template -- of itself: this IS the image of trees in a field at dusk, this IS the image of a woman sitting across from a man in a passenger seat of a car, this IS the image of a man alone at a table crying... There is a self-consciousness at play in the sensitivity of the cinematographic light, and thus a heightened sense of physical presence. And the performances by non-professionals are rendered in a way which recalls Bresson, but with a more pronounced distancing. Yet at the same time, and unlike Bresson, the characters just don't register as fully inhabiting a world.

Having said all that, I wonder what connection Mr. Reygadas estimated for his project with respect to Carl Theodor Dreyer's film Ordet, which appears the intentional factor in making his own, largely according to the conjunction of the same main event (a miracle) in both films. Silent Light is actually only a very slight homage to Ordet (shared miracle notwithstanding) for all the supposed similarities many critics have wished to concoct between the films. It seems hard to reasonably qualify Reygadas's re-approach to this "miracle of faith" (not to reveal it here), which one had no trouble accepting from Dreyer, who was a man of deeply religious sensibility -- a sensibility generally and notably absent in Reygadas, a crucial point which leaves the comparison of both men itself wanting.

A rather important omission in general from the critical assessments of the film, is the remembrance that in making Ordet, Dreyer did adapt a play -- through which the matter of revealing the inner states and spiritual conditions of the characters depend on words and the nuances of meaning in language; we are communicative, expressive beings (urban or rural), after all. One of Dreyer's supreme gifts was to compliment the emotional weave of the ongoing verbal exchange between characters with visual compositions and lighting, illuminating what was outside of the spoken. This perfectly complimentary method (one even more refined in his last film, Gertrud, also based on a play) -- between word and image -- exemplifies the interdependence out of which the meaning of his work arises.

In contrast, Reygadas favors the laconic approach of images over words, and has difficulty producing the same depth of total response from the viewer. If he did indeed intend to seek out the inner lives of his characters, albeit in a way apart from language, he hasn't achieved much more than a surface of imagistic mystique, wherein things tend to signify only themselves (as "templates") without deeper resonance. On balance, however, it is notable that there is a distancing due to the subtle stylistic effects one can feel even when watching Dreyer's film; a feeling of being at a remove from the events unfolding, even while one senses being suspended in a spiritual dimension, yet in the end, one which still somehow feels like *real* everyday life. This unusual effect also seems to be present in Silent Light.

Interestingly, when the miracle of the former film appears here, it is not a moving event in and of itself; and yet paradoxically, it effectively becomes such -- due to the exquisitely clear, lucid visual presentation: the transference, of the technical qualities of modulated light, upon subjects, into a "miraculous appearance," is total. The face of the smiling or crying one is the the face illuminated and transfigured by this light -- the entire process of which is ostensibly the real subject of Reygadas's film.

But in Dreyer's cinema, the mutually dependent transference of meaning between words and images makes for a more deeply satisfying experience, far beyond mere technical control of the medium. Next to Ordet, Silent Light will seem ever more slight the more critics try to inflate tenuous connections between the two. One is even tempted to apply Mahler's dictum that "interesting is easy, beautiful is difficult." Apropos of the ravishing images Reygadas conjures, however, one might go further here and say that the beautiful truly appears easy, but nonetheless a deeper, more rewarding interest lies elsewhere.

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