Planet In Focus 2016: Our Review of ‘In Pursuit of Silence’

Planet In Focus 2016: Our Review of ‘In Pursuit of Silence’

Cinema is obviously first and foremost a visual medium but all you need to do is watch a horror movie with the volume off to realize how big a role sound actually plays in our enjoyment of film.  In Pursuit of Silence, Patrick Shen’s 2015 documentary, looks at the role sound and more specifically silence play in our everyday lives, both historically and currently in our ever louder modern life.

The film introduces us to people from disparate cultures and places including monks under a vow of silence, a naturist and bird watcher, a master of the Japanese tea ceremony, an American man on a silent trek across the United States and a composer who’s controversial piece 4:33 involves the musician sitting quiet and motionless for 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

It details the important role of silence in human development, namely allowing early man to stay safe from predators and hidden from prey.  The further we allow ourselves to be removed from silence, it argues, the less human we become.  It also theorizes that we need silence to truly comprehend our relationship to sound.

In today’s world, taking time to enjoy silence is not only important to our well-being (noise pollution is second only to air pollution as an environmental stressor on our health) but it also allows us to understand how sound affects and informs our lives.  Silence, it suggests, acts as a reset button and lets us to appreciate the true intricacies of the symphony around us.

The film’s crisp cinematography is edited into a hypnotic visual poem, accompanied by the sounds of some of the noisiest and most tranquil places on earth.  It is a beautiful movie both visually and aurally which acts itself as a reset button for our eyes and ears.

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Galadriel fell in love with the movies when she was taken to see Superman at the age of three. Legend has it she watched the whole thing standing up with her jaw on the floor. She went on to see Superman four more times in the theatre and developed a lifelong passion for film. Galadriel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto which she parlayed into a ten year stint at Blockbuster Video and more recently a career in nursing. But some things never change – she still loves movies and counts Gone with the Wind, Amadeus, The Shawshank Redemption, La Dolce Vita and the films of Michelangelo Antonioni among her favourites. She is also obsessed with the Oscars and knows more about them than any one person should. Galadriel currently lives in Toronto with her husband and young daughter who is soon to see her very first movie in the theatre.