Cinema is not only visual but also an auditory art. Sound effects, ambient sounds, and the dialogues are often used as a means of expression. But dialogues are not always considered a sine qua non for a movie. Some directors either do not use or use very little dialogues when they build a narrative structure. Even if you are thinking of using dialogue in your work, being able to create the scenes without dialogue would help you to balance the dialogues in your screenplay. In this post, we propose 5 extraordinary movies without dialogue that succeed to create a narrative structure or give the audience experience without using dialogue.
Five (2003) is a movie divided into 5 parts: We witness a piece of wood drifting ashore, people walking on a wooden sidewalk, dogs on the beach, walking ducks, and finally the moon’s reflection on the water. These landscapes, which have no dialogue, promise nothing to attract the audience. But when we observe these scenes, time becomes an important element and we have the opportunity to be alone with our own thoughts through the images.
Similar to Five (2003), Milky Way (2007) gives the audience an active observer role. We watch long shots in which the camera never moves. But this time, the people in the image are much more active, and each episode attempting to portray its own story. The director tries to make us guess about these situations and it creates a movie experience that has a sense of puzzle solving.
In Distant (2013), you need to wait patiently and watch observational scenes in order to understand what’s going on. One man calls his lost cell phone, another man goes to the subway station, a little girl releases a fish into the swimming pool, and the audience’s task to follow and make predictions about all these situations.
In theory, Tribe (2014) is actually a movie with dialogues. But it is impossible to hear these dialogues as all the characters in the movie use sign language. Despite this, the film does not have any problems to convey its story to the audience. Tribe (2014) proves that a well-written movie does not need dialogues.
Land and Bread (2008) is a short film that summarizes all films we recommend in this post. The film manages to show a dramatic event of a family who lives in a deserted settlement by observing the events in distance. This award-winning, non-dialogue film is currently on Youtube. You can watch it here:
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