Wholehearted Silences

In a wide variety of contexts today, we face an outbreak of conflict, in which there exists a disturbing failure to understand one another in the most vital of matters. Closely partnered with this phenomenon is the widespread rejection of all dialogue in which such an understanding might occur.

Intouchables, the French film directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledo, explores the development of an improbable friendship between Philippe, a wealthy tetraplegic, and Driss, a young, poor man from the ghettos, hired as his live-in caregiver. In the video below, I examined how Philippe and Driss communicate, which each other through both dialogue and silence, to reach each other in such a way that their friendship becomes profoundly transformative.

I applied the hermeneutical method of Hans-Georg Gadamer, which encompasses both verbal and nonverbal forms of communication and pre-occurring aspects such as presuppositions and preunderstandings. Gadamer has devised an anthropological experience of art that involves the concepts of play, symbol and festival.
I examined the dialogue within the film and compared what happens when the element of play connects and creates understanding and when it gets blocked or breaks down.

For both Philippe and Driss, speech becomes a call to the other to respond with a profound silence. These silent moments of awe are outer manifestations of the most in-depth experiences of their inner truths. It is the silence that creates the drama and, in turn, fosters a deep friendship and provides each with the knowledge of transcendence. The silence is not empty, but rather a ritual that unifies both through its inherent ability to listen.

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