Blame it on Al Jolson. Ever since that infernal crooner delivered the line “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” in 1927’s The Jazz Singer, audiences have demanded to hear actors speak in movies. The very next year, Mickey Mouse spoke in Steamboat Willie, and the era of the talkie had truly arrived. Displaced silent actress Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) would bemoan the situation in 1950’s Sunset Boulevard: “They had to have the ears of the whole world, too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk, talk, talk!” The only silent films that have been made in recent decades have been deliberate throwbacks, like Michel Hazanavicius’ Oscar-winning The Artist. But maybe the silent movie, or at least the dialogue-free movie, has not yet breathed its last. On September 7, The Hollywood Reporter accidentally uploaded a wordless version of the trailer for the upcoming sequel Bridget Jones’s Baby. Luckily, quick-thinking YouTuber Joe Kwaczala was there to preserve this alternate cut and share it with the world. The results are surprisingly coherent.
Words? Who needs words? Norma Desmond put it best: “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!” There are certainly plenty of familiar faces in Bridget Jones’s Baby, including those of Renée Zellweger, Patrick Dempsey, Colin Firth, and Emma Thompson. And the basic plot of the film—Bridget is pregnant, but who’s the father?—comes through just fine. Samuel Beckett was right. Every word really is “like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.”