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...As I walked along the street with my bloodstained hands clutching my Deadly weapon, I was stopped by three German tourists. One was your typical blond, blue-eyed Thirty-something male, one was a rather young and attractive dark-haired lady and the third member of the party was a black, fuzzy-haired, man (who remained silent throughout the encounter) with a very sinister grin. The blond claimed that they were looking for "El Gringo’s," I looked at the young lady and she just nodded. Naturally I had never heard of it, so I just directed them to Bambi-Land(aka Mutilation Park). I left them to experience the city for what it truly was. I waved them farewell and wished them a pleasant journey as I returned to the shadows whence I had come.

I looked beside me, she was beautiful and she was mine. I heard that Strange thumping in my head again and my body began to shake and I could no longer see, but then a blurry object appeared before me. I began to focus. It was my lampshade. I jumped forward in the realization that I had been dreaming, I looked across and she was gone. The thumping returned. It was my front door.

I stood up and walked towards the door. The cool draught from the hallway flowed between my toes as I opened the door. The Hallway was silent, apart from the rhythmic crushing of bedsprings a few doors down. An envelope that lay on my foot worn doormat. I must have done the same thing a thousand times in the last four years. I walked into my pathetically cramped kitchen and poured the contents of the envelope onto the small table that I would have infrequent meals on. The envelope contained a neat bundle of dollar bills, an address written on fine notepaper using a charcoal pen and a photograph. The small bundle of cash contained approximately two grand, the usual fee. The photo was of elderly man with white hair, glasses and a face you just wanted to kick in. Apparently he lived at six hundred and sixty-six Cromwell street, a street which had meaning for me, for an associate lived on it also.

I`m a cleaner, working for whoever has cash and wants a job done right. I got dressed in my favourite black garments. Suddenly, for absolutely no reason, I grabbed my TV and in a fit of blind rage, threw it out of my fifth storey flat. At that exact moment, the local priest, Fr Brian was visiting the young college girls in the flat below, something he did this on a regular basis. Anyway, the TV hit him at such a velocity that his head exploded and covered the front window of a passing car. This car was being driven by one of the richest men in the area, a young successful businessman called Jim Carter. He was already late for work and he had to drop of his two young children at school on the way. Fr Brian’s brain matter, did infact matter as it prevented Mr Carter’s ability to see where he was driving. Moments later he had hit a nearby lamp post at around 50 mph killing both his young children on impact and causing him to subsequently lose his job, wife and in the following weeks, swan dive off a multi-storey car park downtown.

When I actually manage to sleep, I usually have the same recurring dream. In this dream, I am chained to a cold, stone wall and all my victims are on the floor, chained to the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Suddenly, blood gushes out of their bony eye sockets and then whatever flesh is left on their decayed frames begins to melt and I then begin to drown in a sea of their flesh. Then the dream starts to get really disturbing! The sea of flesh seems to evaporate, when a fluffy- white rabbit enters the room. The rabbit just waddles in on its hind legs and lies in the centre of the room squinting at me while cleaning its whiskers. After about ten minutes it rolls around in a circular formation, while singing "I’ve got a littl` something for ya!" The rabbit then stops and resumes an upright position and floats upwards for about two Meters from the ground and at this point it appears to have a violent seizure. After which the rabbit morphs into three, rather large and overly hairy kiwis. These inevitably shoot into my chest, penetrating my Solar plexus. After some excruciatingly painful sensations, it then feels as if my internal organs are slowly melting and that my ribcage is being slowly pushed open and as I look down I see a gelled hair emerging from within me. Eventually an entire head, which bore a remarkable resemblance to Elvis "the king" Presley, had appeared and asked me in a rather dodgy Welsh accent "Is this Woodstock! Mate!?"

My dark greatcoat hung inches above the wet street tempting it to stain it. When I wore the coat I could conceal practically anything within its depths. Tonight I was using this cloak of secrecy to transport my favourite double-barrelled shotgun. Like I always say "double da barrel, double da fun." With my shotgun well concealed, I could walk up to my next victim and blow fragments of his skull over a passing OAP. Naturally the OAP previously mentioned would not be amused in the slightest by his/her newfound predicament.

While floating past a newsstand I picked up the latest edition of "Weekly World News." The headline was rather basic by my standards: "River, Elvis and Mercury in bizarre, alien sex video scandal." I put the pages of truth on my head for the simple reason that I genuinely enjoyed doing it and also because I thought that it had a unique affect on women.

It was a busy Saturday night and the streets were filled with people out looking to screw someone, or get screwed. I hated the city on a Saturday night, every pub would stuffed full of nutters and if you did manage get a pint in one, you’d probably spill it over a meathead murder machine in a brand new Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt. I headed for a quiet place that few knew about. I walked across a busy street and down a dark alley. A homeless man in his 50’s lay leather-bound in a cardboard box. As I walked passed he grabbed my greatcoat and begged me to give him a dollar. I turned around and kicked him in the face. He lay on the ground and squirmed in agony; he then sat up and opened his mouth-zip and blood began to pour out. It was quite the sight to behold, rather pretty actually.

I skipped onwards until I reached a wall at the end of the alley. I began to climb a ladder, which was part of a fire exit attached to the exterior of a building. After a few minutes I had reached the roof of the building. The city looked beautiful and I was always amazed by how silent the city appeared from here. I could see the dense smog that hung over the city and the neon lights that illumined the streets below. There was a cool breeze and I began to feel the first signs of a fast approaching winter. I turned to a small door a few metres away that led to stairwell. As I walked towards it, the small stones on the roof began to crunch and grind against the slate covered roof. I tried the round knob on the door and the door creaked open. I entered the stairwell and I closed the door before I proceeded downwards. I must have went down about six floors before I was greeted with a another door that had "Jody’s Joint" frantically painted in red dye, on it. Jody was a complete psycho; maybe that’s why no-one ever came here. I heard that a bunch of American tourists managed to stumble across the joint (God knows how) and when they asked Jody for six baby shames and a hooch, he almost ripped them apart. He managed to kill three with his bare hands, and he got three more with his lovely, shiny twelve-inch blade and I heard that a wee lass, only six or something, managed to get up unto the roof but she was that messed up that she fell off the roof into the alley below. Legend has it; she was then eaten by rats and some hungry, homeless bloke.

I knocked on the door, and waited. There was no reply. I pushed the handle-less door, as it slowly opened I heard a young woman scream. I looked around but I could see no-one else in the bar. I approached the small beer-stained counter and rang the small shiny, silver bell that was fastened to the surface of the counter. Jody emerged from a small door at the far left of the counter. He was cleaning his blood-drenched hands with a ungodly white cloth. He didn’t realise that blood was dripping over the counter and onto the floor. When he saw the look on my face, he said "oh sorry `bout da mess, What can a be gettin` ya." "Just give me a bottle of V2." I left money on the counter and picked up the bottle and took a mouthful of the nectar from the gods. Jody didn’t seem to be in the talking mood as he had disappeared back into the little doorway. I walked towards one of the booths and sat down. Habit made me remove a copy of Ulysses and without realising it, I was being butt-fucked by James Joyce’s imagination.

After several hours I left the bar as I had enter it, empty. Gradually, I made my way up the staircases and I managed to climb down the exterior of the building without meeting an untimely death. Once again in the alleyway, I noticed the homeless guy still lying there. Unfortunately for him he was still alive. I thought that if I could manage to rid the world of this waste of space, then I might actually feel good about myself. I removed my shotgun, eased the tip between the gimp’s lips and I emptied the contents of the barrel. My heart whelmed, I almost cried. "Suppose I better get this job done" and with that thought I found myself walking down Cromwell Street.

I stopped and lay against the fence directly opposite this Mr Major(pain)`s humble Abode. I took out a Benny and lit it using my magic finger which I had obtained from a Polish witch, whom I had encountered somewhere in the Alps. My mate Feddy lived on this street before he got: banged up by the pigs for a multiple murder rap. I really hated the filth; they killed my bro a few weeks back, so what if he killed a few innocent kids.

I threw the dog-end on the cracked pavement, crushed it with the sole of my boot and crossed the street. I walked up the five stone steps which lead to Mr Major’s front door. I knocked on the door with the wooden handle of my shotgun. A squeaky voice within told me to “piss off.” I could have blown down the door and given his living room my own unique style of interior décor, using him as my palette. But I wanted this encounter to be a humorous one, well for me anyway. I knocked again, but this time said "Penthouse subscription for Mr Major." The door opened and a puny little man emerged. I grabbed him by the neck; he must have been three feet smaller than me. I threw him backwards a good six feet and the poor bloke crashed through his lovely glass coffee table and on his maiden flight. He began to squirm and cry like a bottle-less baby, so I gave my steel-toe boot a tour of the interior of Mr Major’s genitalia. I was going give this loser a good seeing to, he was going to experience new levels of pain he never imagined existed. He was going to beg me to end his worthless, pitiful life.

I placed my trusty double-barrel on his kitchen table and I produced a surgical scalpel from my left pocket. When Mr Major came around after receiving quite a number of blows to the left-side of his skull, he had been tied, naked to his bed (wonder how that happened). He was far from being in a comfortable state. He looked down he couldn’t help but notice the fact that I had performed a vasectomy completely wrong. Mr Major’s nice white sheets where by then quite badly bloodstained, but that was the last thing on his mind. Strangely, he didn’t appear to be enjoying the attention and kept fainting, but I couldn’t allow him to miss the excitement, so I waited until he came around before continuing. In surprisingly short space of time I had successfully managed to remove Mr Major’s reproductive gland.

By this stage he was looking rather pale, but I figured that he’d hadn’t enjoyed being a man anyway, by the large number of women’s clothes hanging in his wardrobe and by the video that been playing in the background throughout the nights events. Anal Apocalypse 2 certainly had a climax. When Mr Major opened his eyes again, his facial expression revealed that he wished he hadn’t, for could now add limbless to his grand title. He began to sob as he noticed the thick river of blood that was coming from openings in his freshly Conceived bloody stumps. It was rather amusing watching him wriggle in a pathetic attempt to enact some sort of revenge on me. I couldn’t stop laughing, it really was genuinely funny. To make this scene really picturesque I used to scalpel to carve an inverted cross on his chest and the poor blood-drenched, gimp let out an unforgettable scream as he pushed his chest upwards and it split open. It was definitely one of those camcorder moments.

I got bored after an hour or so of playing with his bloody internal organs, although I had made a lot of nice pictures on the walls, I felt I had outstayed my welcome. I had to admit that this had been one of my more enjoyable jobs. I carefully closed the door and started walking, it was just after ten and I really liked to use the subway at this time of day. The city called and I was helpless to follow.

The Silence
(Tystnaden)

"Erectile tissue. It's all a matter of swollen tissue and secretion. A confession before extreme unction: semen smells nasty to me."

Swedish director Ingmar Bergman has never won any awards for his cheeriness and one of the least cheery entries into his canon of films is a strange little 1963 film called the Silence. Bergman alleged at one time that the film was the culmination of a "trilogy" about communication with God, beginning with 1961's Through A Glass Darkly (Såsom I En Spegel, which won that year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture) and continuing with 1963's Winter Light (Nattvardsgästerna, which was more deserving of such an honor than its overrated predecessor). Now, however, Bergman repudiates that claim and says that the idea looked better on paper through the bottom of a glass of scotch. I would have to agree with him, despite the fact that two of his best films came from this non-trilogy. Unfortunately, both of them have a tendency to be overshadowed by Through A Glass Darkly, which in my opinion is the weakest of the three films for a number of reasons, the biggest of which are (a) that it is too melodramatic and too over-the-top in its depiction of the protagonist's mental decay and (b) its ending is a thrown together non sequitur that means little. The Silence, on the other hand, is insane but taut in its madness and the ending is appropriate.

Synopsis/Analysis

The film stars my favorite Swedish actress, the versatile and beautiful Ingrid Thulin, in the role of Ester, a translator who has become seriously ill during a trip with her sister Anna (the curvacious and sexy-as-hell Gunnel Lindblom) and her nephew Johan (Jörgen Lindström). They are traveling through the Eastern Bloc by train and stop in the fictional country of Timoka, a completely militarized pseudo-industrial wasteland with an incomprehensible language. We learn little in the first scene about the main characters but we do get to see that the train is populated by military officers and see through the eyes of young Johan the heavy artillery that predominates the countryside. This is our first clue that a conflict is on the horizon.

Ester, Anna, and Johan stop at an elegant hotel to give Ester time to recuperate from her mysterious sickness. The "unknown illness" is a common theme in many of Bergman's films, but it's the operative inverse of Victorian Novel Disease, which sees the afflicted (universally a woman or a small child) become preternaturally and ethereally beautiful before being whisked away to rest for eternity in peace. The Bergman disease is cruel, brutal, hard to watch, and all the more frustrating because the audience has no idea what it is. Ester and Anna disagree about the temperature of the room, with the former saying she's cold and the latter saying she's hot. Anna decides to have a bath and has her Johan scrub her back in a manner that suggests a quiet and inappropriate sensuality between mother and son (further accentuated by Anna's missive for Johan to take off his clothes so that they can take a nap). All this time, Ester sits in the other room to drink, smoke, and masturbate listlessly.

Bored of his nap, Johan travels around the hotel in a manner that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever seen the Shining. He eventually happens upon a troupe of Spanish dwarves who perform at the bar across the street. He "shoots" them with his capgun and they pretend to fall down dead. It is significant that Johan points his gun at people and shoots them before speaking with them, as this ties back to the militaristic theme of the film. At all times, a war seems imminent, and war is by definition the complete breakdown or absence of meaningful communication between two or more parties. They invite him into their room to play and joke around, bizarrely dressing him up as a little girl before the group's infuriated manager returns and scolds them for fooling around. Johan is politely shown the door and then urinates in the hallway as a silent act of defiance. Back at the hotel room, Anna tells Ester she's going out and Ester has a panic attack. She calls the concierge to bring her some food, but they can only communicate in hand gestures and murmurs. Anna goes to a cafe and buys a newspaper (which she plainly cannot read) while her waiter takes a look between her spread legs beneath the table.

Johan returns to the room and speaks with Ester, who offers him some of her lunch. She tries to rub his cheek in a show of affection, but he withdraws coldly. He offers to draw Ester a picture and he proceeds to draw what appears to be a picture of Dracula. Anna goes to see the "Chin Varieties" show, where the dwarves are performing a ludicrous dance routine. Most significantly, however, she sees a man and a woman having sex in the audience, something that clearly arouses her. Anna leaves the place with a new mission: to get laid. She wades through a sea of men on the street looking for a suitable candidate, including several uniformed partisans. She settles on the waiter she allowed to catch a glimpse of her at the cafe. Meanwhile, Johan meets the concierge who brought Ester her lunch and the concierge offers him some chocolate and shows him pictures of a funeral in the countryside, apparently trying to explain their significance to Johan who, obviously, cannot understand a word he is saying. Johan sees his mother coming, however, and runs off with the old man's pictures, stashing them under a rug for no discernible reason. Ester and Anna discuss the latter's whereabouts as Ester spies on Anna undressing and washing her semi-nude body.

Full mobilization begins in the streets and in the bedroom. Ester and Anna ignore each other as Johannes Sebastian Bach plays on the radio. They argue over Anna's sexual dalliances and it is clear from the way Ester stares at her sister and licks her neck that there is something very wrong with their relationship. Ester sees Anna as being cruel for "betraying" her, but really depends on her sister as her gateway to sensation. The familiar shot of two halves of two faces being framed in such a way that it represents a whole person is seen for the first time here, although more famously in Bergman's follow-up Persona and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. In the same way that Alma and Elisabeth or Betty and Rita represent two halves of the same woman in those films, Ester and Anna are coequal partners of a single entity. Ester is an awkward, intellectual loner who never leaves the room throughout the course of the film and prefers to work on her new translation and masturbate. Anna is a comfortable, sensual extrovert who can't stand being in the room and prefers to wander the streets of Timoka and pick up men for meaningless sex.

As Anna leaves Johan and Ester, it is at this point that Johan begins to become closer to his aunt. He goes into Ester's room and watches through the window as a tank barrels down the street. Johan and Anna have a more meaningful conversation from before, and asks why his mother doesn't love him any longer. He weeps silently and Ester holds him close, giving her the affection he had denied her earlier and bolstering Ester's confidence. He then tells Ester where Anna and her anonymous lover have wandered off to and she decides to confront them. Anna tells her lover how nice it is that they can't understand each other while he stares out a window. When Ester knocks on the door to their room, Anna arranges it so that her sister walks in and sees them having sex. While taken aback by this at first, Ester eventually shakes her head and says that she feels sorry for Anna. Anna criticizes Ester for her belief that "everything has to have a meaning" and then calls Ester a petty, hateful person. Ester patronizes her sister calling her "poor Anna," which upsets her greatly. Ester leaves the room as Anna laughs uproariously and then begins to sob uncontrollably before the waiter sodomizes her. Ester realizes that she has won the moral victory (whatever it is at this point) but doesn't care because she has, in effect, lost her sister. What was the purpose of their confrontation? This was the final battle in the war between the two sisters: what territory was gained?

The next day, Johan and Anna decide to leave. Ester is going to stay in Timoka, presumably to die. Much to Anna's bemusement, however, Johan seems reluctant to leave his aunt, and promises he'll return. Ester and the concierge sit together and she begins a long, rambling diatribe he cannot understand. He stares confusedly at her as she details her distaste for sexual intercourse in cold, clinical terms. She has another attack and he stares impotently at her, naïvely and obliviously unable to comprehend what is going on. It's clear that Ester has retreated to a very peculiar place in her mind, which is the natural consequence of her lifetime of silence. Anna and Johan return to collect their things and leave, with Ester giving Johan a list of words in the Timokan language and what they mean. Johan hugs Ester before being pulled away by his mother.

On the train, Johan reads his letter, in which Anna can see no value. It is titled "TO JOHAN: WORDS IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE." The words she has written are "hand" and "face." It is clear, then, what the war between the two sisters was really fought over and who ultimately triumphed: it was a struggle for the love and attention of Johan and it is plain that Ester emerged victorious. For although Anna is obviously warmer, she doles out physical affection without regard for the meaning behind it or the person to whom it goes. Ester is cold and logical, which is why her gestures of affection for Johan are all the more important and all the more special; she rarely offers them to anyone and only after long and deliberate consideration. Anna's behavior has caused her to lose her son's love and she can't even recognize it.

Conclusion

This is truly one of Bergman's most difficult films to watch. As the title implies, the dialogue is quite sparse. Beyond that, what dialogue there is is always emotionally raw and is always countered by painful recriminations in the Tennessee Williams style. This is the most abstract of the "trilogy" and probably the least liked or understood. For viewers of the triology, there are two main camps: those who prefer Through A Glass Darkly and those who find it weak and nonsensical. I fit into the second group and so prefer this film (although Winter Light is, for my money, the superior film). However, the Silence is not a film for Bergman amateurs. If you see the Silence before any other Bergman films, there's a good chance you'll be repulsed by the man. Start with the Seventh Seal and move onto Wild Strawberries. If you liked those, see Persona. If you can handle that one, you can handle any Bergman film, including this one.

The Silence are an alien race and religious cult that were featured in Doctor Who. They were most integral to the plot arc of Series 6, where they worked as powerful and mysterious antagonists for The Doctor. There will be major plot spoilers in this entry, so if you have yet to see Series 6, you may want to cease reading.

The Silence are tall, thin, faceless and androgynous aliens who resemble the painting The Scream. Their most fearsome and novel power is that they are memory proof: someone who interacts with one, even at length, immediately forgets them as soon as they lose visual contact. This has led to some truly eerie moments, as often the audience, like the characters, is not shown the presence of the Silence. We are often only shown the outcome of an encounter with The Silence: tally marks written on someone's skin so that they can remember that they had some type of encounter, although they won't remember what it was.

Along with their memory proofing, they also have the power to give post-hypnotic suggestions, as well as the more mundane ability to shoot lightning bolts. In the episodes The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, it was said that they were part of a conspiracy that had ruled the world for thousands of years.

All of which was discarded with The Time of the Doctor, where the once mysterious and sinister, and very powerful Silence were revealed to be only a splinter group of another religious groups, well-intentioned extremists. In fact, the Silence were originally engineered to be confessors, priests who could give absolution but leave people with no memory of the encounter. And who can shoot lightning. None of which makes sense, and is an example of how the writer of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat, has let down some of his promise. While a spectacular idea, the final resolution of the mystery of The Silence was very disappointing.

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