The Best Movie Acting Scenes with No Dialogue

The Best Movie Acting Scenes with No Dialogue
Photo Credit: Featured Image via Bart via cc
You say it best when you say nothing at all
Some of these scenes contain #SPOILERS so don’t watch if you are worried about ruining a film you might enjoy at a later date. I will try and avoid any kind of spoiler in my write-up.
I really love it when a filmmaker is able to tell a story, or part of a story, using no words at all. Film is such a visual medium and often with clever edits, cuts and shots a whole story can be told with little dialogue.
However those are not the moments I am looking at in this list. Here I have chosen moments when I really feel there is some wonderful acting being done in silence. With just a look or micro-expression we learn so much about the internal life of the character.
Film acting can often be so difficult because it is needs total relaxation, expressions are tiny and almost all of the emotion you will express is actually internalised.
These are moments where I see the beauty of just one look and the skill of ‘doing nothing’ on screen. The power of silence.
I would love to know any examples of silent film scenes and movie sequences which you think display great acting, so I can share them on future articles. Please let me know your examples of by getting in touch or via Twitter
Seeking A Friend for the End of the World
What would people really do if humanity’s last days were at hand? In this movie a meteor will destroy the Earth within three weeks.
This scene is kind of spiritual but I love it because it is the first time we see Steve Carroll as Dodge accepting what is coming and becoming closer to Keira Knightley’s character Penny.
This scene is a delightful quiet testament to the power of connection.
Almost Famous
Not strictly a silent scene – but there is no dialogue just singing along to the radio.
Director Cameron Crowe uses the Elton John classic Tiny Dancer to great effect in this moment in the autobiographical movie ‘Almost Famous’
The band on the tour bus are all totally mad at each other and sit in a stony silence. The song playing on the radio brings them all together and tensions are dissolved.
Jaws has many dialogue free moments full of tension especially thanks to the dramatic music … duh-nu, duh-nu, duh-nu!!
The film is not just about a killer shark but I think it is more about a man dealing with his place in society, in his family, with his own masculinity. So we have this delightfully tender moment in an otherwise terrifying movie.
I think this scene is just wonderful and so very, very human with perfect acting from Roy Schneider.
The Warriors
The Warriors is a 1979 film which takes place over a single night about a gang in New York.
This scene is near the end of the movie and The Warriors get on the subway for their final journey home.
I love the uncomfortable silence throughout this sequence, and the sadness behind the unapologetic defiance.
The Graduate
What a fantastic movie! If you haven’t seen it …. then watch it!
This scene shows two young people relishing being young, joyous, carefree and living in the moment however throughout the scene we see the realisation on their faces of what they have done and a new confusion dawns that they are actually becoming adults themselves.
We also maybe see the dissatisfaction of finally getting what you dreamed of.
A heartbreaking scene and the first scene where we begin to understand the character of Trip.
Denzel Washington’s acting throughout is superb, full of resentment, hurt, pain and anger. We also see in Matthew Broderick’s character a boy in a man’s world – confused by his own power and a false bravado in front of his own men.
Big Night
The film Big Night is a perfect film for actors to watch.
The film is about brothers opening a restaurant but could so easily be about us struggling actors wanting to put on a show. The struggle of those of us who ‘create’.
This last scene is so perfect – mundane yet intense – this one take scene is emotionally fraught and yet ambiguously beautiful.
A History of Violence
So much emotion in this scene and all so brilliantly underplayed.
Again it is hard to comment on the circumstances of the scene without spoiling the film, but just watch and see how subtle but moving the acting is.