The art of silence… in Hell on Wheels

So, I know that I’m extremely late in the game on this, but I recently started watching Hell on Wheels (yay Netflix!). I’m about 10 or so episodes in, and I absolutely love the way the story is being filmed and the writing. But I was recently struck by the show’s ability to drive the story through scenes/story-lines that involve no dialogue or sound.

I think this is an interesting aspect of cinematic storytelling and it reminds me of how art without words, is able to capture the intention of a scene or plot development and have a greater impact than it would have if involved dialogue. This is also true to action scenes in the show as well.

I just finished watching a scene that involved a violent confrontation between the railroad workers and the Native Americans. There was no sound besides a Mumford and Son’s song that had a very soothing sound. The contrast between the music and the visual was so jarring that the impact was greater. I felt more in-tune with the characters and the emotions of the scene. Also knowing that violence like this did happen during the building of the railroad added to that impact.

When watching TV, I am definitely an apathetic watcher, sometimes I’ll be working on stuff while watching or playing games on my iPod, but when a show comes along and uses elements that require the full-attention of the viewer, they are doing something right. And I know that some could say I’m advocating TV-watching (only in moderation kids), but television is simply another form of story-telling. Just like with books, there’s always going to be trash, so you have to search for the story that captures your attention the most.

While getting hooked on a television show, right a grad school starts, probably wasn’t a good idea, I am super excited to see how the story will continue. On that note, do you have a favorite TV show that captured your attention? Why did it? Share in the comments!


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