Nothing shakes humans like murder or attempted murder.
No, nothing comes even remotely close.
As the escapee of a likely violent attack on a recent dark, rainy evening (December 14), I should know how chilling en ce moment, and thrilling in retrospect, the experience can be.
Whether the victims are carefully chosen or random, murder is often seen as the best solution to a problem.
As Stalin is said to have famously (not) declared:
Death solves all problems; No man, no problem.
Whether Stalin made the ‘death’ statement attributed to him or not, he faithfully executed its essence even while elevating his killings to mass murder.
Lesser criminals, like the ones we encounter in real life or see in movies, must be content with murder on a purely retail scale.
Das letzte Schweigen a.k.a. The Silence (German, 2010) is a film that deals with murder in a small German town.
Isn’t murder in large cities so passe. 😉
Beautifully adapted from Jan Costin Wagner’s novel Das Schweigen, The Silence looks at the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl through the prism of a young girl’s murder 23 years earlier in the same place.
Although the crimes are separated by over two decades, they appear to be connected in a fashion.
In both cases, the victims are young girls in the first flush of puberty, riding their bicycles and the crimes are seemingly random.
When 13-year-old Sinnika disappears one evening after visiting the local fairground to meet her friends, it’s not long before people’s attention are drawn yet again to the unsolved murder of Pia, which happened over two decades earlier.
Of course, we know exactly what happened to Pia when she was riding her bicycle down a deserted lane amidst golden yellow farmland.
Early in the movie, we (the audience) see Pia running from her attacker, the struggle, the rape in the field and the young girl’s murder.
We know her murderer too but the police don’t. And so the crime remains unsolved.
Sinnika – Lot of Questions
But what happened to Sinnika, the girl who disappeared recently, remains a mystery to both the audience and the police until the end.
Is Sinnika even murdered or has she just run off in a huff after the nasty fight with her father?
Is there a connection between Sinnika’s disappearance and the earlier unsolved crime, a failure that still deeply bothers the retired police chief?
Why is the architect Timo so disturbed when Sinnika disappears?
Sinnika’s disappearance raises a lot of questions, the hallmark of a good crime thriller.
The second crime is a more complex one than the first, something we learn only toward the end of the film.
One of the novelties of The Silence is that this is one of those rare films where screen time for both the murderer and the murdered is far less compared to the time the camera lingers on other characters.
Director Baran bo Odar is to be commended for bringing a fine amalgam of crime, guilt, tension and fear to the screen.
I was mucho pleased with this thriller and have no hesitation in recommending it.
Sebastian Blomberg as the depressed detective David Jahn and Wotan Wilke Möhring as Timo are impressive.
But The Silence is one of those movies where the carefully scripted plot is the real star.
The Silence is available on DVD (with English subtitles) at Netflix should you care to watch it.