To paraphrase the hepcat jazz aficionado, sometimes it’s the words not spoken in films that have the greatest impact. At least, that’s the theory behind this video essay posted by Fandor Keyframe and made by Filmscalpel, which looks at key scenes from 15 films where the words of actors are drowned out for some reason or another. “When Words Fail” travels through time and genre to find these key moments in revered films and what the emotional impact is on the audience. Even though the characters can’t be heard, their reactions and emotions can still be felt.
The video ranges from some of the most famous “wonder what was actually said” moments like in Lost In Translation and 2001: A Space Odyssey, to more subdued scenes from the likes of In The Mood For Love or The Conversation. By including this wide range of different films, Filmscalpel shows how silence can be used just as effectively as hearing the words come from the actors’ mouths (sometimes even more so). It’s the break in between the dialogue where the characters truly reveal themselves, instead of obscuring themselves with all of that talking.