“Pushing Yourself into Existence”: Language, Trauma, Framing in Pat Collins’s Silence (2012)

Dara Waldron


The article considers Pat Collins’s feature length debut Silence (2012) as a film concerned with responses to trauma. Opening with a definition of epistemology and film-imaging as framing, the article then focuses these concerns around language or language-use. A parallel is then drawn between the thematising of “silence” around the journey of the protagonist (Eoghan) in Silence and “silence” as thematised in the final proposition of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (1922). This parallel is used to explore an obligation, perceived as coming to prominence in the course of Eoghan’s journey, to resist the desire to frame the experience of trauma; resistance defined by an ethics of “silence.” The article’s middle section develops this discussion of ethics to explore the “window” as a visual motif in Silence (considered pertinent to reading the ethical), arguing that this motif gives the perceived obligation to remain silent (in the case of Eoghan’s journey home in the film), to resist framing, a crucially aesthetic context. The final section addresses these issues in the wider sense of the film as an allegory on Ireland; concerned with accepting the limitations of language regarding the traumatic or the experience of trauma.


framing; Ireland; language; trauma; knowledge

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