The Silent Scream

I am currently sitting in a state of arse numbed shock as I write the last blog for this week. I googled The Silent Scream to find photos of a Brechtian nature from Weigel’s portrayal of Mother Courage screaming in despair when she loses her children. Standard Spark Notes, A-Level stuff. Only to realise what a pre-google life I led at school. Because I would have known that there is an anti abortion film that goes by the name “The Silent Scream” from 1984 that claims to show a baby in the womb being sucked out and letting out a visible scream whilst being ripped to pieces. I am freaked out. Officially. Especially because in a grotesque attempt at humour, youtube came up with an advert for glasses over the video. At which point, about 3 seconds in, I stopped watching. Yet, out of curiosity, I did read the wiki entry on the damn thing. It’s not very nice, but it does point out that it’s medically unsound and the baby might just be yawning. To be honest I don’t find that at all comforting. The only salvation is that the title credits are akin to 1950s film, “The Blob,” which is a sci-fi. And this reminds us how important graphic design is to our understanding of media. Symbolic association. There, that’s a nice segway.

So how do you mime a scream, which is essentially a sound. Well, this is a photo of Brecht’s wife, Helene Weigel doing it in his play, A Mother Courage:

The Silent Scream

The Silent Scream


She looks almost like a statue carved out of wood, her hands clutch at her skirt in desperation. The drama of this scream, the silence of loss and despair are perfectly captured in this photograph. I can’t imagine how shocked and inspired the audience watching that must have felt. This is mime in an expression of truth against noise.

Mime perhaps in it’s purest sense as a theatrical technique is simply not speaking, or as I like to think of it, roguishly against speech. All of our base emotional reactions are without speech, laughter, intense grief and so on, although not necessarily without noise. So what is it when the world goes silent? It is the oncoming tornado, it is catastrophe, it is nothingness. An empty space upon which you cannot make a mark.


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