UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Silence studies in the cinema and the case of Abbas Kiarostami Tabarraee, Babak


This thesis is an attempt to formulate a systematic framework for ‘silence studies’ in the cinema by defining silence in pragmatic terms and suggesting different forms of filmic silence. As an illustration of my model, I examine the variety of silences in the works of Abbas Kiarostami, a notable figure of Art Cinema. The analytical approach suggested here can further be applied to the works of many other Art Cinema auteurs, and, by extension, to other cinematic modes as well, for a better understanding of the functions, implications, and consequences of various forms of silence in the cinema. Chapter 1 provides a working and pragmatic description of silence, applicable to both film and other communicative forms of art. Chapter 2 represents a historical study of some of the major writings about silence in the cinema. Chapter 3 introduces, exemplifies, and analyzes the acoustic silences in the films of Kiarostami, including the five categories of complete, partial (uncovered; covered with noise, music, or perspective), character/dialogue, language, and music silences. Chapter 4 introduces the concept of meta-silence and its trans-sensorial perceptions in communication and in arts, and then defines the four categories of the visual, character/image, narrative, and political silences in Kiarostami’s oeuvre. In the conclusion, some of the powers of silence in the cinema of Kiarostami are discussed. The narrative, ethical, philosophical, and aesthetic dimensions of silence in Kiarostami make it possible to define his cinema as one based in, and dependent on, silence.

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