A Question Of Silence (De stilte rond Christine M.)
Year Released: 1982, 2023 Cult Epics Blu-ray
Runtime: 1h 37m
Director(s): Marleen Gorris
Writer(s): Marleen Gorris
Cast: Edda Barends, Nelly Frijda, Henriëtte Tol, Cox Habbema, Eddie Brugman, Hans Croiset
Language: Dutch with English subtitles
Where To Watch: available June 13, 2023, for pre-order here www.cultepics.com or here www.mvdshop.com
RAVING REVIEW: Join me as we examine the world of cinema, navigating A QUESTION OF SILENCE's profound narrative and compelling performances. In 1982, the film industry was graced with the emergence of Marleen Gorris, a visionary director who impressed viewers globally with her debut. Her unique approach to storytelling won her the esteemed Golden Calf at the Netherlands Film Festival. She breathed life into a feminist narrative, focusing on three women from different walks of life – the reticent Edda Barends, the vivacious Nelly Frijda, and the discerning Henriëtte Tol. The catch? They commit a brazen murder in broad daylight, their identities exposed, but their motivations veiled in secrecy. Enter Cox Habbema, a determined female psychiatrist enlisted to decipher this labyrinth of emotions and motivations.
After creating a stir among the 1982 art-house cinema aficionados, A QUESTION OF SILENCE gradually slipped into the abyss of forgotten films. The story intricately weaves the lives of these three intriguing women – a subdued housewife (Edda Barends), a spirited café owner (Nelly Frijda), and a secretary (Henriëtte Tol), apprehended by law enforcement of Amsterdam for a chilling crime – the murder of a shopkeeper. They accept their prison sentence with an unexpected sense of relief, an escape from the grind of their mundane lives. Cox Habbema undertakes the daunting task of understanding these women, using an in-depth interview approach with the accused and their loved ones. Her tenacity to unearth the reasons behind the gruesome act underscores the necessity of looking beyond the obvious to grasp why an ordinary woman could take such a radical step.
The film portrays Cox Habbema as a sympathetic figure who approaches her mission with kindness, contrasting the cold disinterest of the men involved in the investigation. She embarks on a journey into the depths of the suspects' lives, their families, and their associates to determine the nature of the crime – was it a deliberate act or an unplanned outburst? As the storyline shifts to the impending trial, the suspense builds – what does fate have in store for these women?
Unfolding the narrative with a dash of suspense, Gorris ingeniously reveals the guilty parties early on yet takes her time to unravel the crime scene, using flashbacks as a powerful tool. The film's cinematography is almost as important as the cast themselves, from wide-angle shots of the boutique to a concentrated lens on the protagonists in a chilling face-off with the victim. The film meticulously develops the characters of the three women and the investigating psychiatrist, gradually exposing their unfulfilling marriages, endless household chores, childcare responsibilities, and professional lives marred by disparagement, disregard, and unequal pay. This film covered the feminist concerns of the day that mirror even modern-day issues.
These harsh truths shape the narrative backdrop for the accused and, to a degree, the psychiatrist. Despite her education, the psychiatrist faces societal hurdles that make her out to be a villain of sorts. When she delves deeper into the case, her husband expresses concern for his reputation, subtly showcasing the biases she faces even at home. Gorris, with a flair for nuance, threads these minor yet potent incidents and comments into the overarching narrative, leaving viewers with a film that will resonate long after the credits roll.
2K HD Transfer and Restoration
Original LPCM 2.0 Mono track
New DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track
Audio Commentary by Film Scholar Patricia Pisters
Interview with director Marleen Gorris (Cinevisie, 1982)
Interview with actress Cox Habbema (Cinevisie, 1982)
Polygon Journal Newsreel (1982)
Original Theatrical Trailer
Cult Epics Trailers
IN DUTCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
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[photo courtesy of CULT EPICS/MVD ENTERTAINMENT]