A Film with No Dialogue Changed My Life

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, my ability to pay attention went downhill. Since the only way I could watch films now was in the comfort of my own home, I found myself paying more attention to my phone than what was on the television. Even if the story was compelling, staying connected to the plot felt difficult in this time period. Then, I watched Phil Tippett’s Mad God, and everything changed.

Mad God is a 2021 film and is the magnum opus of visual effects expert and director, Phil Tippett. Before this, Tippett was primarily known for his stop-motion work in Jurassic Park, Return of the Jedi, Robocop, and Starship Troopers. Mad God was a passion project for Tippett, and one that he had worked on for thirty years. It promised grotesque monstrosities, apocalyptic hellscapes, biblical themes, a stunning soundtrack, and absolutely no dialogue.

Being a fan of Tippett’s previous work, I was excited to finally see this long-term project. However, the idea of no dialogue was daunting, to say the least. I decided to figure out why that was. When I took several Film Studies courses at University during the pandemic, of course Citizen Kane had crossed my path. It wouldn’t be a Film Studies course if you didn’t have a week-long discussion on the topic of Rosebud. Surprisingly, I found it difficult to pay attention to the film. Citizen Kane had the reputation of being one of the greatest stories ever put onto the silver screen, and here I was, tempted to browse Twitter on my phone. This is when I realized how much my love for film had been tainted by how much Covid-19 rearranged my life.

Then, Mad God was released. While I feared that the lack of stimulation from Citizen Kane left no chance for me to enjoy a film that didn’t have words, I dove in, nonetheless. It was more than I could’ve dreamed for. The film didn’t need dialogue. Instead, it told its story through the incredible atmosphere. Honestly, it felt as if I was watching an animated painting in a museum rather than a film. By the time it was over, I realized I hadn’t even reached for my phone once in the entirety of its eighty-three-minute runtime.

Obviously, I had to understand how Mad God was able to grip me in ways that Citizen Kane could not. I realized that both films came into my life at titular moments of self-realization. Citizen Kane arrived when I was burnt out from watching films in the pandemic style. Only after I saw it, was I able to understand the problem I was facing and desired change. Mad God was the testament of that mindset. It was exactly the change I was looking for. Tippett’s work challenged me in every way I thought I knew film. It made me fall in love with the world of cinema all over again.

Without Phil Tippett’s masterpiece that is Mad God, I may never have continued my studies. When I saw a director so passionate about making a film about his own artistic vision in the modern day and age, it awoke a similar sensation of passion within me. Mad God made me care about the industry again. It was a breath of fresh air for the cinematic landscape I had grown accustomed to. After watching Mad God, I had even checked out more silent films like 1922’s Nosferatu. It was a film I didn’t think I wanted to watch before Mad God taught me that dialogue isn’t everything.

The effect that one film or show can have over someone is amazing. It’s this idea that’s gotten me into the industry and something I wholeheartedly believe in. Everyone has their own version of Mad God; a story that will change your perspective about life. That’s definitely something to look forward to during your next film or TV show. You never know what could ignite that spark within.

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