In an ’66 movie article the author claims that „movies speak a universal language“ and later goes to prove the truth of this statement with “a picture of a house shows a house in every language.” So far so true, pictures need no translation. The video release tagline for the made for TV movie Shooter comes to mind in that context: “If a pictures says a thousand words, then this movie tells it all”
Movies can and do speak a unmistakeable language, that can’t be denied, and watching a opening sequence like the one for the movie The Believers is bound to convince us that movies do indeed need no dialogue* to tell their story:
Ricardo Delgado's brilliant Graphic Novel Age of Reptiles comes to mind, too. Without a single bit of dialogue he manages to tell a compeling story of revenge in a aeons before any human being on earth.
But is there really are a universal language at work or is it just a basic understanding that can be communicated in this way, just as limited by its own unique boundaries as every other language is?.
Language as we use it might be a clumsy instrument, a hindrance even at times, as Suzanne Vega points out so well in her song: These words are too solid They don't move fast enough To catch the blur in the brain That flies by and is gone
but in spite of all its short comings it’s still our best means available to communicate complex ideas in a fast and simple manner.
* Really, the complete opening sequence would work just as well without the dialogue that follows shortly after the shown snippet. As an aside: this opening always reminds me of a short story King wrote a few years earlier called Morning Deliveries, which got published with others in Skeleton Crew.
"When someone doesn't show up, the people who wait sometimes tell stories about what might have happened and come to half believe the desertion, the abduction, the accident. Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't--and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown. Perhaps fantasy is what you fill up maps with rather than saying that they too contain the unknown."— Rebecca Solnit