The Killing, Drive and The Artist might seem like a random choice of films or TV series, but they show a growing tendency: an appetite for silence with The Artist taken to the extreme.
It has baffled cinema critics with the success of The Artist. It is the first time a silent film has won Best Picture since 1927 and has captured everybody's imagination in an unexpected way. There seems to be a pattern for a more restrained showing of emotions, an increase in which the characters look at each other in silent rather than shouting, gazes and touching becoming the main channel of communication and a film that goes further than that.
The Killing tells the story of an imperfect human being who happens to be a detective. She muddles through the journey of finding out who is behind of that. The characters prefer to take bad news with stoicism rather than a constant flow of tears and shouting. It gives the viewer time to take it in, to assimilate a piece of news that is not pleasant. And to move on to the next series of events.
Drive has also enjoyed a cult following. When Driver, played by Ryan Gosling, mercilessly smashes the head of a killer in front of Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, she looks at him and goes away. There is no need for a heated argument. You watch her looking down on him and obviously disapproving what he has just done. He spends much of the film taking us on a ride on his car with no dialogue. He keeps his thoughts for himself. We watch, we observe. It gives a space to take the film in. To take home more than you can normally in another film overwhelmed by noise.
The Artist is just another step further. A silent movie about the transition to sound and the ups and downs of fame. It is like the public is now ready for much longer silences. And it is craving for it. Much can be said about a society crammed with sounds, interrupted by mobiles, text messages, Twitter and other 20 second attention seekers that keeps coming and going every 20 seconds. Perhaps going to watch a film - and being on the tube - are the only moments that we can do something without being interrupted and it is providing with a very scarce commodity in the modern world: Silence.