Two women and a boy share a compartment on a train. It is an unhappy journey, and we sense tension and dislike between the women. The boy wanders out into the corridor, stares at other passengers, watches as another train passes by, its cars carrying armored tanks. The train stops in an unnamed city, and the three check into a hotel. So begins Ingmar Bergman's "The Silence" (1963), the third part of his "Silence of God" trilogy. If "Winter Light" (1962) directly referred to God's silence, and "Through a Glass Darkly" (1961) did so by implication, there is no theology in "The Silence" -- only a world bereft of it.
We learn about the characters indirectly, through their dialogue; a reference to their father reveals that they are sisters. One is Ester (Ingrid Thulin), a translator, a woman who looks severe, pained, disappointed. She is dying. The other is Anna (Gunnel Lindblom), younger, more voluptuous, impatient with this journey. Although they are apparently going "home," there is no indication of where they were or why they went there, and no clear idea of where they are. Even Ester, the translator, doesn't recognize the language, and in a European grand hotel, it is odd that the hall porter speaks no German or English.
The boy, not yet an adolescent, is Johan (Jorgen Lindstrom). He has an angelic face and a sweet nature. He is Anna's son, but apparently has long lived in the middle between the two spiteful sisters. The reason for their spite is never specified, but goes back to childhood and obscurely involves their father. Now that Ester is dying, Anna has little pity for her and flaunts the fact that she is going out into the city -- for sex, we somehow understand, or at least as a show of disloyalty."
Chicago Sun Times