The (Silent) War

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The (Silent) War Movie Poster Image
Brutal, over-the-top violence in Spanish war drama.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 121 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Confirms the immorality of war, the sometimes unlimited cruelty of humans, and the fact that such situations destroy innocence. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroic characters (male and female) are brave, loyal, resourceful, commendable. The villains (male and female) are amoral, ruthless, sometimes depraved.

Violence

Frequent graphic, gruesome, relentless violence, in some instances meant to shock with viciousness. Weapons: firearms, machine guns, knives, beatings, point-blank shootings -- all with bloody, horrific results (a head is blown off). A lengthy, brutal sexual assault. Countless killings and degradation (including torture).

Sex

A couple makes love. Some nudity.

Language

Frequent subtitled profanity including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol is consumed in multiple scenes. Frequent smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The (Silent) War (aka Sordo), a Spanish-language film with English subtitles, tells a story that takes place in Spain in 1944, just before the end of World War II's European theater. In this movie, a team of Spanish Loyalists (a resistance army that is opposed to Generalissimo Franco's fascist Nationalist forces) hope to reclaim their country after the Nazis have left France. Director Alfonso Cortes-Cavanillas' film adaptation, based on the Spanish comic book by David Munoz and Rayco Pulido, is staggeringly violent. Viewers can expect countless acts of murder, torture, animal attacks, point-blank shootings, and innocents in peril, including one brutal -- and lengthy -- sexual assault. A head is blown off; a man is tortured relentlessly; an animal dies. There's also one consensual sex act and some partial nudity. Rough language includes "f--k" in multiple forms, "s--t," "a--hole." Characters smoke and alcohol is consumed in several scenes. This movie isn't for kids.

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What's the story?

It's October of 1944 in THE (SILENT) WAR (aka SORDO). A last-ditch invasion is planned by the Loyalist guerillas who were previously defeated in the Spanish Civil War. Prepping for a surprise battle that will unseat the fascist dictator Franco, a small team of resistance fighters blow up a bridge vital to their enemy. Unfortunately, the explosion is mistimed and there are multiple casualties. Anselmo Rojas (Asier Etxeandria) is badly wounded and fully deafened by the blast. Stationed close by, Nationalist soldiers, led by "The Capitan" (Aiter Luna), are ordered to apprehend the Loyalist survivors, and most importantly, Anselmo Rojas. One member of the guerilla team, Vicente Roig (Hugo Silva), is captured quickly, held in his own village, and tortured to reveal Anselmo's whereabouts. Despite the fact that he cannot hear, Anselmo makes a determined effort to make his way to the French border and join his compatriots. Among the impediments to his escape are his concern for Vicente and his family, and a female mercenary from Russia, who is unspeakably evil.

Is it any good?

In this stylized, superbly photographed war tale, the savagery of the violence as well as the frequent lapses in logic will appeal only to folks with strong stomachs and a disregard for common sense. (An example: Don't any of the well-trained soldiers even think to surround the house with their prey inside?) Additionally, The (Silent) War is slow, long, and repetitive, and some of the villains are absurdly overstated. 

On the plus side, the leading character's deafness is an original and well-executed conceit. The movie is beautifully shot, edited, and produced, and special kudos go to the sound effects team. Sadly, a director with such an artistic bent (think Sergio Leone or Quentin Tarantino) needs a bit of restraint -- as well as better pacing and plotting skills, not to mention more nuanced characters -- in his filmmaker tool belt.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The (Silent) War's  violence. What effect did it have on you? Was it thrilling or shocking? Could the story have been told effectively without so much violence? Why do you think the filmmakers chose to show as much as they did?  What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sexuality depicted in this film?  Why do you think the filmmakers included the brutal rape sequence? Do you think it was meant to be exploitative and/or titillating, or to show the character of the villain? Did you already know enough about the character's cruelty or did you need this event to confirm it? 

  • Find out what the term "gratuitous" means. Using the definition, do you believe that either this movie's extreme violence or the rape sequence (or both) were necessary or gratuitous? Explain your answer.

Movie details

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