“I’m not listening to anything you have to say!”
“Then I won’t speak. Just let me show you.”
There’s been a renaissance in animation over the last decade, thanks to technology developments but also – significantly – some versatile and creative directors. Films like Wall-E, Up, Wreck-It Ralph or How to Train Your Dragon aren’t just memorable for their colourful, imaginative worlds and bold character designs, they’re also characterised by exciting cinematography, daring to take chances in a field – blockbuster filmmaking – not known for ingenuity.
The best place to find non-verbal cinematic storytelling nowadays is animation, where despite a target audience of children, directors are happy to tell their stories without relying on excessive – or even any – dialogue. Think the powerfully moving montage that opens Up, or Wall-E’s first hour, which might as well be a silent film.
Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon isn’t quite as good as those Pixar films; but it was filled with scenes where the protagonist, Hiccup, spends time interacts with his dragon, Toothless: an effective emotional story told without dialogue. The film’s strengths lie in what it avoids – no excessive dialogue, no clunky attempts at humour, just good, old-fashioned storytelling with the cinematography to support it.