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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: 19 reviews
31 of 34 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 Nate - 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.
9 of 9 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 Nate - Published on Amazon.com
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.
9 of 10 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!
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Camera as intruder on a private world Jan. 7 2009
By Olly Buxton - Published on Amazon.com
I was once in an art history tutorial when a fellow piped up and asked whether the three legged stool the Madonna was sitting on was symbolic of the Holy Trinity. I recall the tutor looking politely doubtful while the rest of the class fell about cackling unkindly at the poor try-hard. His crime: striving and over-reaching to see meaning in a purely incidental relationship. Well, maybe it was incidental - maybe he was right, who knows? - but I laughed all the same.

Nevertheless, his disposition would stand that chap in good stead should he ever chance upon Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light. This film admits of - requires, even - an over-reaching to see meaning, and as such will not be everyone's cup of tea. I'm still not sure whether it was mine.

To be sure, there is a certain sort of buff to whom Silent Light will appeal greatly - he who is rejoices in straining to unpick a film-maker's message will be in heaven: such industry is obligatory since Carlos Reygadas has opted to communicate his message in the most eliptical way. Reygadas is, you see, an auteur (a fact which will fill you with glee or despair, depending on the significance you see imbued in things like three legged stools).

In many places, the Meaning of Silent Light is to be found not in dialogue (there isn't much) nor its delivery (the actors - real Mennonites - aren't professionally trained, and frequently may as well be reading out technical manuals for all their performances convey) nor, really, in what happens in the film (in fairness, after a *very* slow build up, things do happen), but rather how it is *seen* to happen.

There is meaning, that is, in frame composition. It is significant that the camera itself is often visibly part of the film - not just in camera position and width of angle (though they are frequently telling) but in the existence of lens flare, in that the camera itself pushes long grass off screen when tracking a character at ankle level, that its lens is spattered by water cascading off a tree and when a wide-angled tracking shot noticeably fish-eyes the parallel horizontals of a building. In a more careless film maker, you'd assume these were continuity errors, or at the most purely incidental relationships. Not, I suspect, here. There is a long slow shot (indeed, there are hundreds of long slow shots, but one in particular) forward out the windscreen of Johan's pickup - itself doubling as a visible lens - as he drives down a dirt road. When he turns off the road, the truck pivots around the camera as if it is on a gyroscope, the camera continuing to point on its original bearing, only now pointing at the side of Johan's face. The effect is that the viewer cannot help but be aware that there is a movie camera sitting on the passenger seat in Johan's truck. Cinematography 101 would teach that first principle of filmmaking is to create quite the opposite impression.

Not here: The lens constantly intrudes, and when it doesn't we see through windows, through windshields, through ajar doors into private affairs. We are always aware we are intruding.

What to be drawn from this? We are conscious, always, of the aperture - that we are observers, voyeurs in an intensely private world (an extramarital love affair) inside an intensely private world (a devoutly religious family) inside an intensely private world (a Mennonite comunity) and, like the camera, we shouldn't be there.

Profound, I suppose, but I'm not sure what finally to draw from it. I feel much the same way about the film as a whole.

There's something clever about this, but it's too clever: self-consciously self-conscious, and tiring - divining which production artefacts bear messages and which do not is hard, and exhausting. In many places I gave up.

I didn't understand, for example, the significance of a momentarily lost child, discovered safe and sound and watching an old recording of a Jacques Brel TV special, in French, in a van. Why? And why a long dead Belgian folk-singer? Could a director who takes such care to speak via lens flares and camera angles have been so careless to throw in such a scene apropos nothing? And what to make of the end, wherein a studiously realist film suddenly goes surreal, apparently capable only of figurative interpretation?

Some high brow critics loved this film - the one through whose recommendation I came to be watching it, Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times, was so taken by its luminescence to declare it "the impossible made possible by grace and faith" - but for me it was too empty for that. Much has been read into the celebrated opening and closing shots but, again, I couldn't quite see the cleverness (and as you'll notice, I'm prepared to be as creative/fanciful as the next chap in my interpretation), and so let dusk fall not that much wiser than I'd been when daylight broke a couple of hours previously.

Olly Buxton
3 of 4 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.


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