films Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue  

Ann Casano
3.4k votes 857 voters 41k views 18 items Follow Embed
In essence, film is a story told with images. The best films construct a narrative not with dialogue or superfluous backstory but with pictures. It’s one thing for a character to say, “I’m so sad.” It’s another thing to place a silent character in a dark bedroom, with sparse rays of sunlight forcing their way through closed blinds, with a wad of used tissues on top of an unmade bed, and a bottle of whiskey on the nightstand. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. Here are the greatest movies that tell their stories with limited dialogue.

Many renowned directors are known for making films with minimal dialogue. Auteurs like Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick intentionally omit the chit-chat in order to let the cameras do the talking. Of course, dialogue is important to a story, but in a film like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film viewer is purposefully not told exactly what it happening on screen. Kubrick meant for the movie to be a cryptic allegory, a complicated story up for individual interpretation.

Many of the minimal dialogue movies on this list are not exactly blockbusters. For every The Revenant or Gravity, there's a Gerry or Drive. These movies are concerned with message and even style over box office returns. They cater to the cinephile, intent on creating their own film experience, without telling audiences what to think.

Make your voice heard. Vote up the best movies with almost no dialogue - those that tell their stories best with the moving image.
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Cast Away

Cast Away is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue
Photo: 20th Century Fox
Tom Hanks plays Chuck, a Fed-Ex worker who is marooned on a distant island, after a plane crash. Cast Away is the ultimate survival story. The audience watches as Chuck figures out how to make fire, build shelter, and find food. Eventually, Chuck finds a volleyball, which he names Wilson, to talk to, but for nearly the entire duration of Chuck's time on the island, there is only minimal dialogue.

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Actors: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Chris Noth, Frederick W. Smith Jenifer Lewis, + more

Initial Release: 2000

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

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#16 on The Best Adventure Movies

#36 on The Best Epic Movies

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#6 on The Biggest Tearjerker Movies of All Time

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WALL-E is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue
Photo: Disney, Pixar
Pixar's Academy Award-winning 2008 animated classic makes excellent use of imagery to tell the tale of a lonely trash collecting robot. There is a monologue at the beginning of the film, however, WALL-E doesn't have anyone to talk to until Eve enters the picture. WALL-E and Eve's first lines of dialogue do not come until 22 minutes into the movie.

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Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Laraine Newman, Kathy Najimy, Fred Willard Jeff Garlin, + more

Initial Release: 2008

Directed by: Andrew Stanton

Also Ranked

#29 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#5 on The Best Robot & Android Movies

#8 on The Best Animated Films Ever

#4 on The Best Oscar-Winning Animated Films

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue
Photo:  United Artists
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is Sergio Leone's nearly three hour third installment of his Dollars trilogy. It is the quintessential spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood as Blondie, a man of few words. Leone tells the epic tale with wide shots, close-ups, and a iconic score by Ennio Morricone. Each of the three main characters (the good, the bad, and the ugly) is introduced with a prologue that lasts 30 minutes; during much of that time there is no dialogue.

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Actors: Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong, Jason Isaacs Eli Wallach, + more

Initial Release: 2008

Directed by: Sergio Leone, Vicente Amorim

Also Ranked

#1 on The Best Western Movies Ever Made

#4 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#59 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

#87 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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The Revenant

The Revenant is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue
Photo: 20th Century Fox
Leonardo DiCaprio plays real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is left to die after being mauled by a bear. The actor barely has any dialogue for the length of the almost two and a half hour film, and his face is covered in mud and hidden behind a long dirty beard. DiCaprio conveys his emotions with his eyes and his body. When he feels cold, we feel cold. When he suffers intense pain and agony, we suffer intense pain and agony.

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Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

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#28 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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+ - 178 66

5 people just voted on Bambi

Bambi is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue
Photo: Disney
The classic Disney tale tells the story of a deer who loses his mother and must find a way to survive in the world without her. We watch as Bambi makes friends, learns how to find food, survives a harsh winter, and even falls in love. The tale is timeless and the dialogue is limited.

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Actors: Sterling Holloway, Sam Edwards, Cammie King, Ann Gillis Will Wright, + more

Initial Release: 1942

Directed by: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Paul Satterfield, Bill Roberts Norman Wright, + more

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+ - 166 81

5 people just voted on 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue
Photo: Warner Bros, MGM
Stanley Kubrick's legendary sci-fi vision of evolution is not supposed to be easy to understand. There is no dialogue during the first 25 minutes of the film, and no dialogue during the last 23 minutes.

During an interview with Playboy magazine, Kubrick was asked about the absence of dialogue in 2001, and he explained, "It's not a message I ever intended to convey in words. 2001 is a nonverbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only a little less than 40 minutes of dialogue. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content. To convolute McLuhan, in 2001 the message is the medium. I intended the film to be an intensely subjective experience that reaches the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does; to explain a Beethoven symphony would be to emasculate it by erecting an artificial barrier between conception and appreciation."

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Actors: Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop, Keir Dullea Gary Lockwood, + more

Initial Release: 1968

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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#11 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#26 on The Best Robot & Android Movies

#26 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#76 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

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+ - 117 78

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue
Photo: Paramount, Miramax
There are long stretches of absolutely no dialogue in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 epic adaptation There Will Be Blood. In fact, the first line of dialogue doesn't come until nearly five minutes into the film, with the word, "no," then, "there she is." The next words are not spoken until 15 minutes into the film. Anderson, one of the visionary auteur filmmakers of modern cinema, told EW, "I always had a dream about trying to make a movie that had no dialogue in it, that was just music and pictures. I still haven't done it yet, but I tried to get close in the beginning of There Will Be Blood."

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Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Ciarán Hinds, Paul Dano, Paul F. Tompkins Jim Downey, + more

Initial Release: 2007

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

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Video: YouTube

Ryan Gosling plays an unnamed Hollywood stuntman by day and a getaway driver for his pulse-racing illegal moonlight gig by night. Drive is an atmospheric neo-noir with jaw-dropping, unapologetic violence. One of the most revered scenes from the film (clip above) features Gosling and his love interest Irene (Cary Mulligan) in a tension-filled elevator scene that will make you sweat, all without the benefit of a single word of dialogue.

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Actors: Christina Hendricks, Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston Ron Perlman, + more

Initial Release: 2011

Directed by: Nicolas Winding

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#78 on The Best Car Movies

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