The Day Silence Died | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Day Silence Died

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The Day Silence Died

Paolo Agazzi's enchanting, multilayered fable shows how mass communication corrupts a backward, insular village in the mountains of Bolivia. In the 1950s a self-described "radio operator" arrives in town to install a public loudspeaker system that will broadcast news and music, but this instrument of progress becomes a mouthpiece for the townspeople to air their dirty laundry and secret desires, not to mention an Orwellian control mechanism when the operator begins to censor the news. A prelude, supplied by an elderly writer acting as the town's chronicler, tells of a visiting actor who ran away with another man's wife in the 1930s; years later, the cuckolded husband keeps his daughter locked up as punishment for the wife's infidelity, and the operator falls in love with the young woman. Sensuously photographed, with sun-dappled exteriors and chiaroscuro interiors, this 1998 Bolivian film captures the sleepy rhythms and honeysuckle air of an earthy, provincial town. Agazzi's beguiling mix of politics and peasant life recalls the Taviani brothers, his playful peeling of narrative layers similar to the ficciones of Jorge Luis Borges. Water Tower, Monday, April 19, 6:30, and Wednesday, April 21, 8:30.

--Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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