Silence – Film review

A journey of discovery begins when sound recordist, Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride, returns to his native Ireland on a quest to escape from manmade noise. Roaming the wilds and echoing landscapes of Donegal he finds it near impossible to find peace and quiet. The only bearable sounds are those of nature: the call of a bird, the babbling of a brook, or the buzzing of a bee. Throughout his travels he encounters a series of other humans used to living on the periphery of society and is told by a barkeeper to be careful, as “too much quietness will drive a fella mad”.

Silence-promo-2With his microphone standing unattended in sublime and desolate vistas, the audience are often left with minutes passing and total inactivity – save the howling wind. While the main character is desirous of silence, the audience is probably not expecting such stifling scenes and may find that time stretches out and isolates them. The film is successful in raising awareness that we live in an age of inescapable noise and constant communication, but leaves one a little uncomfortable with such inaction.

The movie acknowledges that humans are naturally sociable beings – whenever Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride encounters another soul in these empty landscapes they are immediately drawn to one another and share tales. Pat Collins, the director, states that the film was largely influenced by travelling folklore collectors from the 1930s and 1940s. Silence has moved this into a contemporary setting, with many of the characters narrating their own lives in rural Ireland. Thus the film is part fiction, part documentary.


Collins’ love affair with remote settings and silence leads to moments of philosophical musing. At times the raging winds are likened to the voices of the dead wailing their untold stories, stories that were deemed too insignificant for the history books. These narratives of ordinary people have empty swing-sets and abandoned houses providing visuals. The script proclaims that there is “wisdom” and “infinity” in silence: human life comes out of silence, akin to the first note of a song. All life and movement is like a song … until our final breath, where we are again met by silence. This is a challenging movie to watch but leaves a dawning comprehension of what it is like to never set down familial roots, showing how loud silence can truly be.

Our rating: ***

Anne x


David Yarrow’s Recent Encounters at Eleven Gallery

David Yarrow’s photographs are striking images revealing creatures in their native habitats, in which power resonates from their eyes. Yarrow ventured to extreme environments to capture the wonderful juxtapositions that exist throughout the natural world. A photographer for nearly 30 years, his new book Encounters explores, in monochrome, an assortment of wildlife and its cohabitants, including elephants, polar bears, macaques and tribal warriors.

d. Yarrow-WhiteoutWandering through this black and white space you are drawn to the contrast Yarrow has created. There are images of polar bears trudging in the distance through a bleached out snowy background (Whiteout); the effect is so stark they could have been sketched into existence

David-Yarrow-Grumpy-Monkey-3_646x430This juxtaposes with some of Yarrow’s other works, which are so visually close to creatures you can see every pore. Grumpy Monkey, of the same endearing (but humorous) quality, is a lot more focused: droplets of water hang from his fur and his eyes look at you askance.

d. Yarrow-ElementalThe most textured of all the photographs must be Elemental. Almost uncomfortable in its proximity, the elephant’s weathered trunk looks as though you could reach out and touch it.

David__Yarrow_Omo_Warrior_582There is a general feeling of safety versus discomfort in the exhibition. One is relaxed, gazing at delightful images of apes mirroring grumpy human expressions – and yet turn across the room, and other photographs expose the harsh reality of life in the wild. Omo Warrior is shocking in its brutality: a tribesman submerged in water casually clutches a gun, and stares at you, unabashed. His eyes tell of a world Western society could not begin to understand. Covered in tribal paint, you can see even the tiny hairs on his chest.

d.Yarrow-The-Revealing-RaceThis is the closest most will come to warrior life in the wilds of East Africa. Here, Yarrow’s desire to involve his audience is most apparent.

This is not all Yarrow has achieved; his meticulous planning has meant he has been able to create affecting images that are almost unreal.

d Yarrow-WildThe beautiful Wild looks like it belongs in fantasy literature, with an elegant horse frolicking beneath the crashing waves of a waterfall. One expects to see a Tolkienian character astride its back. This awe-inspiring photo is sublime in its scope – and how different from the minutiae of the rough and piercing-eyed warrior! Recent Encounters is wonderful in its diverse depiction, showing that nature can be both harsh and beautiful in its sublimity.

Our verdict: *****

Anne x