Silent Dialogue: Philosophising with Jan Švankmajer

  • David Rudrum


Jan Švankmajer does not appear to be a filmmaker to whom words come easily. Many of the short films for which he is best known (including all but one of the eleven shorts collected in the BFI’s two-volume selection of his work)1 are characterised by a wholesale rejection of the spoken word. Few contemporary directors are capable of making feature-length movies that contain not a single word of dialogue, but Švankmajer achieved this in his 1996 film Conspirators of Pleasure. Some of his experimental techniques might even be said to call into question the need for inventing Vitaphone.


Everyday Object Silent Cinema Visual Argument Visual Metaphor Exact Replica 
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  1. 1.
    Jan Svankmajer, Svankmajer (2 Vols), Argos Films/British Film Institute/Connoisseur Video, 1991.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority (1969), p. 295. Hereafter TI.Google Scholar
  3. 16.
    Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, 1981, p. 279. Hereafter DI.Google Scholar
  4. 17.
    Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, 1984, p. 237. Hereafter PDP.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    Bakhtin, Towards a Philosophy of the Act, 1994, p. 6.Google Scholar
  6. 20.
    See Bakhtin, Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays, 1990. Hereafter AA.Google Scholar

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© David Rudrum 2005

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  • David Rudrum

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