Silent Light is bracketed by a pair of achingly beautiful tracking shots—one of dawn and one of sunset—that suggest a metaphysical dimension. This “silent light” frames the story of one man’s inescapable, passionate love for two women, and the spiritual crises and redemption that follow. The film’s emotional authenticity is inexorably linked to the community it portrays: a group of pacifist, simple-living Mennonites who have resided in the Mexican state of Chihuahua since the 1920s, speaking a German-derived dialect known as Plautdietsch. Much of the film’s power is generated by its cast of Mennonite nonactors, who appear to live and breathe the deep convictions of their faith and traditions, lending a documentary-like feel to this poetic work. Reygadas’s film is indebted to Carl Th. Dreyer’s 1954 masterpiece Ordet (also screening this month)—with which it shares a profound and deeply felt belief in the sublime and the miraculous.
Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film.