Certain short films manage to leave a lasting impression on the viewer’s soul, thanks to the emotions they evoke. Others achieve the same effect through their non-conformist style. ‘Silent Sirens‘ possesses the rare quality of being both emotional and atypical, charming us with its unique concept. Neil Sandhoefner distinguishes himself through a special style, intuiting the essayistic potential of his animations. In other words, the director’s offering is less of a fiction per se and more of an experiment that transgresses the conventions of a classic story. Primarily, we are talking about a (meta-)literary exercise, a particular script that mutates the autobiographical genre to incorporate various cultural references and explore the theme of silence.
Silence is therefore the central theme, which the director approaches in a somewhat sociological, symbolic manner, deconstructing emblematic literary sequences, or “apocryphal” histories from the lives of celebrities. The memory of a visit that the director made to England becomes the ideal pretext for him to identify access routes to deeper meanings existing in the history of our culture and civilization, hidden in the pleasant but seemingly insignificant moments of the break. Starting from the song of the sirens in Homer’s “Odyssey,” the soldier who asks the god Harpocrates to protect him while spying on the Trojan enemies, or some aspects of Harpo Marx’s biography, the narrator presents us with a praise of the multiple forms of silence.
In this seemingly spontaneous chain of naive static black-and-white images, everyday details intertwine with observations on how human relationships are not only a consequence of the words that connect us but also of the silences, the pauses of disconnection through which we can access subtler levels of self-knowledge. Neil Sandhoefner orchestrates a tender and stimulating project that is both captivating and elegant. In other words, ‘Silent Sirens’ is not only an intelligent and well-written “animated essay” but also clear evidence of the satisfactions that a professionally orchestrated minimalist style can bring.