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Beyond Silence

Author John Cech
Air Date 4/26/2004

Beyond Silence Transcript

Brief sound clip

You’re hearing Lara, played by Tatjana Treib, the young heroine of Caroline Link’s amazing film, Beyond Silence, as she negotiates for her parents at the bank, where they are trying to get an early advance on an investment account. Both of Lara’s parents are deaf, and so Lara has to translate for them, something that she is able to do with real finesse and firmness. It’s that tenacity of her character that she turns out need in abundance when tragedy strikes her happy family, and she has to find a way to express not only the emotions that are struggling to find release within her, but also to be truly “heard” by her father, who doesn’t understand Lara’s deep commitment to music as the way for her to give voice to both her sorrow and her spirit.

This 1998 film from Germany was nominated for an Academy Award, though it did not win, surprisingly. For it is perhaps one of the best portraits of the child as a young artist that has ever been made. As Lara grows up in the movie (she’s played by Sylvie Testud as a teenager), and as she becomes a virtuoso clarinetist, her talents become both a great solace for her in her loneliness and a source of estrangement between her and her father (played by the extraordinary deaf actor Howie Seago), who is struggling with his own inability to communicate, to move, as the original German of the title puts it, “to the other side of stillness.”

Caroline Link, the film’s director, has made two other films about the dramas between children and adults. In her 2001 movie, Mostly Martha, she examines how the sudden appearance of a child can transform a life, which is what happens when a high-powered, obsessive chef takes in the young daughter of her recently deceased sister. Link bases her latest film, No Where in Africa, on the true story of a Jewish family — the Redlichs — who emigrates to Kenya in 1936 to escape the coming holocaust in Nazi Germany. Once again, it is the child, the Redlich’s daughter Regina, who creates bridges between the old world of her parents and the new world that she is excitedly discovering in Africa. This film did win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2002. One can’t wait to see where Link’s extraordinary talents will take her next, but I’m willing to predict that there’s sure to be a remarkable child in the picture, moving us once again, “beyond silence” to places of healing and hope.

Posted in Film