Screenwriting : Films Without Dialogue by Elisabeth Meier

Elisabeth Meier

Films Without Dialogue

Would like to ask you if you could name me some films without any dialogue. Maybe you know the title or a great script you read or even have a link. I just need some examples to see. Any idea?

Evelien And Dorien Twins

It's not a movie, but you should check out Joss Whedon's "Buffy the vampire slayer" episode called "Hush" which goes completely without dialogue throughout most of the 2nd & 3rd act

Rosalind Winton

Hi Elizabeth, check out some of Charlie Chaplin's films, he was a master at making films with no dialogue. Everything is done through movement and facial expression, pure genius.

Andrew Bruce Lockhart

The opening sequence of Wall-E has no dialogue for quite a few mins.....

Elisabeth Meier

Thank you Twins, Harlan and Andrew - will check all your suggestions. Good to know there are examples I can learn from. Rosalind - yes, but Charlie Chaplin is very extreme and so is Mr. Bean. Slapstick and humor mostly work without words. I would like to know if there are films of other genres who work without dialogues. It's easy to me to write a screenplay this way but I would like to learn on what I have to keep an eye. What makes the pictures' language strong? Only the director's work or already my scene description? Then, do I have to use a different structure like shorter or longer scenes for example? Shorter scenes will make the whole story faster of course. Am still discovering this by reading everything about it, but still would like to see some film examples.

Erica Benedikty

Of the top of my head is Cast Away and All is Lost. I found this copy of All is lost but I'm not sure if this is the script they used for the movie but it's really interesting. It wouldn't surprise me as it seems to be the same as the movie.

Mike Romoth

Quest for Fire! An epic and full of story without words.

Kristopher Rickards

The Thief (1952) - I've not seen it, but it is renowned for having no dialogue. Or more recent is the Shaun The Sheep Movie

Christie Claymore

I was thinking Metropolis as well, not sure but there is definitely written dialogue :)

Jenny Masterton

Terminator - very few words in the first half an hour if I remember.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

"The Artist" - and it won an Oscar.

Phil Richards

If television programs count, there was an episode of "The Twilight Zone" called "The Invaders" that had no dialogue. There was also another episode of the same series called "Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" that had a few lines of dialogue spoken by some minor characters, but the main character had no lines. "Metropolis" had plenty of dialogue, but it was a silent film so it was all written on title cards. "The Bicycle Thief" also contained dialogue, but it was in Italian. Also, this might help:

Rafael Pinero

There is s modern film from 2013 titled Moebius that has no dialogue at all, pretty good but no Hollywood stuff, pretty Artsy and unique

William Martell

THE THIEF (1952) was made by an Oscar winning screenwriter and has no dialogue. Though THE ARTIST has dialogue in title cards, THE LAST LAUGH has no title cards - it's all told through the actions of the characters. It's going to be tough to find a recent film without dialogue, but many recent films have very little dialogue.

William Martell

OWL CREEK BRIDGE is actually one third of Robert Enrico's CIVIL WAR TRILOGY film, and was torn from it's brothers and sold to THE TWILIGHT ZONE because it had no dialogue (Enrico was French, and the other two segments of his film were in French). But it's a great example!

David Kassin Fried

Anything made before 1927 will be a silent film. Check out lists of classics that were made before or around then. Cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Road Runner, etc. are all dialogue free. Lots of more contemporary animated shorts are also free of dialogue. Check out Pixar's shorts, which I believe are all available on their website.

Elisabeth Meier

Okay. Wow! Thank you all very much. I know of course all animations live by fake noises and music. This is not what I am looking for and I know the in German so called "Stummfilme" in the time before WWII and all Charlie Chaplin films. The artist is following their style and the story is playing in that time. These examples are not exactly what I mean - because they are not only without dialogue but even without any natural normal noises at all. Action movies like Terminator are good examples, thanks for this, but action is like sport you actually don't need any spoken dialogue! (just remember all terrible sport reporters you know who spoiled a match you watched on TV) I really love all your suggestions btw and am very grateful for this collection we already have here. Respect and big hug! To explain why and what I'm searching: I am working on a screenplay for a movie without dialogue but with normal, real noises and of course with film music. It will be a contemporary film playing here and now. But the story shall be told just by the pictures. This means the pics have to be very strong and make the viewer curious and nervous about what he sees. The end then will explain everything. Somehow this is a little like a commercial in which you don't know what the story is about and in the end you see the brand finally. Don't know which of your suggestions are already similar to this but anybody is welcome to add his idea to our list of films without dialogue. Thank you again for the moment!

Elisabeth Meier

After I checked all your films en detail I have a one page long list now. :) Erica and Phil - thank you very much for the links both are very helpful! All is Lost is a great example. Cast Away is with dialogue because he talks to himself and to "Wilson" most of the time. Rafael - Moebius is by Lars von Trier - a good reason to watch one of his films. William - The Thief seems to be a great film to watch, I didn't know it yet. Thanks for this hint! Still have to check some of your ideas because I don't know some of the titles. Partly because they rename and synchronize the films in Germany. Thanks again, everyone!

Rafael Pinero

Eli, Moebius is an Asian film, no dialogue at all, modern 2013, the director is Ki-Duk Kim, very controversial

Elisabeth Meier

Yes, in the meanwhile I discovered this too. But thanks anyway, Rafael.

Rosalind Winton

The commercial sounds great, would love to see it once it's ready :)

Chas Franko Fisher

The opening 20 odd minutes of THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Sandy Didner

The Artist. It won an academy award a few years ago.

Elisabeth Meier

Friends, please check what the posts above already listed before you add something. The Artist has been named several times and I explained already that I know it of course and I know it won the Academy Award and the male actor won Academy Award for the best actor. But: I also explained above why it's not what I'm looking for. Wall-E has been mentioned already. Hence, just adding something without really being interested in what I'm looking for and why I posted this lounge discussion is not helpful at all. Thanks for your R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Vaghasiya Harindra

bollywood movie "BARFI"

Kristopher Rickards

Pretty sure there is little or no dialogue in 2003 animation; Belleville Rendezvous (Les Triplets of Belleville)

Elisabeth Meier

Thank you all for your great ideas and for all the links. =)

John Michael German

Dear Elisabeth Meier: Sebastian's Voodoo is one I watched. Below is the link: After first watching this earlier in the year, I created a little short film script that had no dialogue either. I think it is a great way to more deeply tie into getting the emotion across in a script, either for a script or a good way to continue to practice those techniques to create an even more riveting storyline. Sincerely, John German

Bill Hartin

If length isn't an issue, we, FIFO (Fade In/Fade Out), just finished production on ONLY IN THE MOVIES, a short film adapted from Randy Brown's original short script, done entirely without dialogue.

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Hi Elisabeth, Bicycle Thieves is not a silent movie. I suggest you watch movies by Jacques Tati ( The Big Day, Mr Hulot's Holydays, Mon Oncle, Playtime, Trafic. There are very few dialogues and those are of no importance to the plot. They just mix with the external sounds and the music. The work of Tati is totally about the combination of silent movies visuals with external sounds and music. This is mostly inspired by Buster Keaton. The last movies by Buster Keaton The Railrodder and The Scribe are non silent movies without dialogue. If this could be, my favorite unspoken movie would be Wall-E (also inspired by Buster Keaton): 1° The first 20 minutes are totally without dialogue, hilarious, 2° There are very few dialogue and most of the lines are just WALL-E -Eve EVE -Wall-E etc.. 3.There are wonderful sequences without dialogues (the dancing scene in space, many scenes with the robots,...) IMO, removing all the dialogues from the soumdtrack would not affect this movie very much. Best.

Elisabeth Meier

Yes, dear John German, I totally agree. Sebastian's Voodoo is a terrific example. Thanks for this link. This is what I meant, but mine will be with real actors. It surely will be very intense. Especially if you turn down the music to a minimum and leave the natural noises and maybe even some sounds of other people talking somewhere in the background or at a moment the character for examples passes his neighbors or a bus station or so. Or you can at least hear the character breathing etc. Dear Bill, length is never an issue from my point of view, because most feature films first have been shorts or even animations. I just got a message from a novelist who first created a short animation of his novel before he now sat down and began writing the book. Obviously he first needed the visualization. Did you upload your film online? Would like to watch it, if there's any chance. :) Thanks for your comment anyway!

Elisabeth Meier

Jean Marie, thank you very much for your input, great to get to know a director who likes to work without dialogues. Then, I don't know about Bicycle Thieves as this wasn't mentioned before. What was mentioned is The Thief a b/w film of 1952 or 53 which you can find on YouTube.

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