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Creative Inspiration: Nearly No Dialogue Films

Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn
By Jonny Elwyn

Creating a film that works beautifully with (nearly) no dialogue is a great example of pure filmmaking at it’s best. Be inspired by these excellent shorts and features!

Creative inspiration - Silent Films

To me, some of the ‘purest’ filmmaking is when images alone are telling the story, rather than the dialogue. That’s not to say that snappy dialogue isn’t an inherent part of cinema, of course it is, but there’s always something rather special about any silent film that can hold your attention without words. Here are some inspiring examples of just that.

Vodaphone Kiss & Vogue Shorts

This stunning advert for Vodaphone recently won the best colorist award at the British Arrows for MPC colorist Jean-Clement Soret and features lovely music from Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi. What I love about it is that the end caption is what tells you what the whole film is really all about.

Global fashion magazine Vogue has produced a series of short films staring celebrities like Jessica Chastain and Kate Winslet as themselves. It’s an interesting concept that playfully paints a picture of what it’s like to be a celebrity in today’s world. Fast Co Create has a nice write up of the project here.

One Line Films

silent short filmsImage from NYTM

Steven’s Spielberg’s cinematographer of choice Janusz Kaminski has directed these 11 stunning short films featuring ”11 of this year’s best big-screen performers” over on the New York Times Magazine interactive site. Starring Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Chiwetel Ejiofor Adèle Exarchopoulos, Greta Gerwig, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Robert Redford, Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.

The lines have been written by Lake Bell, Andrew Bujalski, J.C. Chandor, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater, Greta Gerwig, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, Nicole Holofcener, Spike Jonze, Jeff Nichols, Sarah Polley and Danny Strong, so it’s a pretty spectacular and eclectic line up. Each of the films are only about a minute long, so take 15 minutes and be dazzled.

Check out Oprah’s short below plus a nice 5 minute behind the scenes featurette:

Silent Feature Films

One of the most famous silent films of recent years is obviously the 5 times Oscar winning The Artist. This year another ‘nearly silent’ feature film is director J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, which stars Robert Redford as its only character. It will be interesting to see if this ‘existential-action movie’ can hold up on screen for the full running time. If anyone can, I’m sure Redford can.

Have you been inspired by a silent (or near silent) film? Share your film suggestions with our community in the comments below!