In Pursuit of Silence
Directed by Patrick Shen
In our race towards modernity, amidst all the technological innovation and the rapid growth of our cities, silence is now quickly passing into legend. Beginning with an ode to John Cage’s seminal silent composition 4’33”, the sights and sounds of this film delicately interweave with silence to create a contemplative and cinematic experience that works its way through frantic minds and into the quiet spaces of hearts. As much a work of devotion as it is a documentary, IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE is a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, with sound, and the impact of noise on our lives.
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★★★★½ review by jokainii on Letterboxd
An incredible documentary that not only tells us why silence, solitude, introspection, and reflection are important parts of being a human, but also shows it as well with small vignettes of natural silence in which the audience can do nothing but sit and reflect. Was especially effective being seen on the big screen in a packed auditorium of people all just sitting and listening to the silence.
A possibly life-changing film. Taking personal time away from the noise in life to think and reflect is something I've been told many times and many ways, and something I understood on a general level for a long time, but something I've never made time for. After this film that will most likely change.
★★★★½ review by BTU on Letterboxd
Very impactful. A needed film. Made me so thankful for the forest close to my house and my need for more silence. I down loaded an decible app for my phone to help me pay more attention to the wash of sound that I often live, unaware of it's impact on my life, body and soul.
★★★★ review by Glen Grunau on Letterboxd
Movies and Meaning Festival 2017
Albuquerque, New Mexico
This film rejuvenated my longing to hold silence as a persistent practice and a way of life. For it offers the only true opening to freedom from egotism and to beauty and to life.
Strangely, despite the beautiful and lingering opportunities to experience silence within the movie, I developed a pressing headache during my viewing. I wonder if it was the consequence of the numerous occasions when the viewer was jolted and assaulted with the contrasting exposure to noise - no doubt intended by the film writer and director to increase the perceived value of silence.
I loved all of the research supporting the multitude of benefits of silence - for physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health and wellbeing.
Meditating mindfully for 30 minutes with 200+ viewers before the movie in a beautifully silent theatre enhanced the experience greatly. Debriefing after the movie with my viewing companions Brent and Jim further enhanced the experience.
★★★½ review by Matthew Lucas on Letterboxd
What is silence? Is it simply the absence of noise? The lack of talking? Is complete silence even possible? In a world filled with noise pollution, be it mechanical or political, Patrick Shen's meditative documentary, IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE, seeks quietude away from the hustle and bustle in order to meditate on what it means to truly be in the presence of silence.
Shen doesn't just seek silence, he actively explores what silence is. While the answer may seem simple on the surface, the film approaches the topic from angles both scientific and spiritual, as both an absence of decibels and a removal from the world's unnecessary nonsense (memorably embodied by the talking heads of 24 hour news). Through interviews with scientists, theologians, monks, and social advocates, Shen paints a picture of an increasingly noisy world in desperate need of slowing down and appreciating the silence.
Whether one finds themselves, finds God, of finds something else in the silence is up to them. But what I found so interesting about the film is that true silence isn't really possible. Even in the world's quietest rooms, isolated from all sound, you begin to hear the sounds of your own body. Escaping noise is more than just escaping loud sounds, it's about slowing down and looking within, taking a moment to separate yourself from the breakneck pace of the world and just existing.
IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE is an almost zen-like experience, filled with breathtaking imagery and haunting moments of complete tranquility. It's easy to find oneself feeling drowsy while watching it, but that doesn't mean it's boring. In fact, it's quite mesmerizing. But as it unplugs itself from the world's overbearing noise pollution, its hushed aural qualities lend themselves easily to relaxation and peace. In w world of constant social media updates, political grandstanding, and competition, Shen looks for something more. It says something about who we are that the idea of silence feels so alien, even radical, to the point that the film feels like a philosophical meditation on a completely abstract concept.
There's something deeply beautiful about its simple quest for a moment of peace in a hectic world. There's so much going on around us that we miss because of our constant connectedness. Shen isn't asking us to unplug, or shaking his fist at the "kids these days," but looking at a world where noise, both literal and figurative, has become detrimental to our health. At 81 minutes, it feels brief, and it establishes its thesis rather quickly. But there's undeniable power in its brevity. IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE is the kind of film that may make you want to find a quiet room and just...be.
★★★½ review by Ketzi on Letterboxd
I enjoyed the film enough, but my favorite part of seeing it was the experience as it ended: nearly everyone in the theater (and it was surprisingly crowded) sat in complete silence throughout the entire end credit role.
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