Released in Spain days before the ending of 2019 and now internationally distributed by Netflix in the midst of the quarantine of the Coronavirus pandemic, The Silence of the Marsh (Original Title: El Silencio del Pantano) is a film that has divided the critics: from those who rate it as a real piece of art by director Marc Vigil (The Ministry of Time ), to those who label it as a silly and simplistic film, passing through the intermediate points that rescue the performance of Pedro Alonso ( Berlin, Money Heist ) but destroy the handling of the narrative.
Indeed, the film includes brilliant performances, starting with Pedro Alonso’s, also highlighting Nacho Fresneda’s (Chema), in a frankly terrifying role, somewhat reminiscent of Javier Bardem’s work in No Country for Old Men , and the less scary, but much heavier role of Carmina Barrios (Purification «La Puri»). However, although the narrative is perhaps too ambitious for what the script really is, it is indisputable that we are dealing with a good quality product.
Now, if after seeing the film, you got lost between what is real and what is not real, between what happened and what did not happen and between knowing if the protagonist of the film is DOA, I suggest you to keep reading, because right below and without further ado, we will analyze and explain … The Silence of the Marsh.
1 | Does The Silence of the Marsh have post-credits scenes?
If you were expecting the director to suddenly include an explanatory scene, right after the credits, don’t waste your time. Perhaps the only useful thing to look at the credits of this movie is the names of the characters. But no, there are no post-credit scenes in this movie.
2 | Who is Q? Who really is the main character of the film?
Before we start to answer what is real and what is not real in this movie, let’s start by differentiating who the protagonist really is:
- The killer: the film is introduced with the scene in which the killer– we will call him that to differentiate him from the writer – ends up killing a taxi driver. This assassin is the one who takes Carretero, the university professor, to the marsh house, kills him and the eliminate the corpse to finally confront Chema, who is following orders from La Puri.
- The writer: Although both the killer and the writer are embodied by the same actor, they dress exactly the same, they have the same watch, the same jacket and they even travel on the same motorcycle, they are not the same character.
The killer never indicates that he is a writer. In fact, in the taxi scene, or in the cabin scenes, there is no indication that he is dedicated precisely to writing. So how do we distinguish between what is real and what is not real?
3 | What is real and what is fiction in The Silence of the Marsh?
The film is an interesting exercise by the director and the screenwriter to show the whole process in which Q, the writer, creates his new novel and how he can make it with elements from his surroundings – the city of Valencia – and from himself.
Now, we can conclude that the scenes where the writer appears in his office, and in which he talks about his work and with his brother are all real, including the scene in which he asks the university if he can talk to Carretero, who is obviously a real character, whom Q is investigating.
However, the cabin scenes, in which the killer faces the consequences of his actions, including his brother’s Nacho (Raúl Prieto) confrontation with Chema, and the killer’s later confrontation with Chema and Fran, they are all fiction.
The disappearance of Carretero, who is a witness in a corruption case, is real. However her disappearance was NOT caused by a kidnapping and subsequent murder, the deputy herself (Maite Sandoval) affirms what has probably happened: Carretero simply escaped to Brazil or the Cayman Islands.
Likewise, everything in the entanglement of La Puri, Chema Falconetti, Fran, is real, and is part of Q’s investigation. The most likely thing is that in fact the events in which La Puri is caught with the drug shipment, it has happened some time ago and the data on money laundering is now public.
What the writer is doing is simply mixing a fictional character he had already worked on – the killer – and fusing it with a true story, from which he has a lot of true information.
4 | So the writer is not a killer?
When a fan asks the writer to talk to her about the killer from his novels – why does he kill? It is a trauma? Or is it a clinical issue?- he answers «because he can.» As with the event with Chema and La Puri, many of the writer’s stories are based on real events, which have occurred to him, but which he assembles in a murderous fantasy that he later translates to paper.
Thus, the writer has probably had bad experiences with taxi drivers, which arouse the desire to kill them, a desire that perhaps all of us at some point have experienced in various situations, but that we in no way execute. Likewise, the writer has the fantasy of ending the life of a corrupt character like Carretero, when he has probably escaped to enjoy the money of his crimes in the tropics. We will explain the last scene associated with these wishes later.
5 | What is the business of La Puri, Chema, Fran, Carretero and La Diputada?
The business is essentially a drug sales business, managed by La Puri, who obviously has the contacts of the producers and is in charge of distributing in Valencia. To guarantee his dominance over the market, La Puri uses the services of Chema, a former inmate, a cold-blooded killer who does not shake his hand in brutally eliminating competition, as he did in the case of the Africans.
Now, the thing with drug money is that it must be legally justified. For that they used Carretero and La Diputada. Carretero is in charge of creating the network of fake businesses that justify drug money. The Deputy, with the help of the police, ensures that these fraudulent businesses are not investigated in exchange for a good amount of money.
When Professor Carretero disappears, the nervousness is evident because if he speaks, he sinks them all. Fran is simply in charge of communicating La Puri and El Profe.
6 | How does the killer get into this mess?
Let’s remember that the whole part of the movie about the killer is fictitious. The killer kidnaps Carretero and he eliminates his body with all his belongings. However, the fact of appearing with a distinctive Ducati motorcycle, near the place where Carretero has disappeared, puts him on the spotlight. This is the scene in which the drug addict and Chema interact. Obviously this is a literary trick, which only serves to advance the plot: a drug addict so concentrated that he can see the plates of a motorcycle of hundreds that must circulate in that area? Really?
Later, the fictional Chema finds Nacho and he murders him, in a rather fictional confrontation, too. The corrupt policeman is in charge of lifting the body and finding the owner of the motorcycle, and the killer, despite knowing the trick, never denies it. The killer lures Chema to the cabin and kills him.
7 | Why does La Puri speak in such a strange way?
When the movie started, I am Colombian, I had to put subtitles when Chema and La Puri started talking, because I literally did not understand what they were saying. La Puri is a gypsy, so her accent corresponds to the accent of her community.
Chema’s accent is the accent of low income people around Valencia. The language spoken by the man from the Public Record Office is valencian, worldwide known as Catalan, because of all the independence noise a few years ago, that ended up in a 30 seconds independence, after Puigdemont would dare to say that Catalonia was independent, but then it was not.
8 | What does the end of The Silence of the Marsh mean?
Now going back to the end, why does the killer after taking care of Chema just give up and allows Fran to murder him? Let’s remember that the killer is an invention of the writer to make catharsis of his murderous desires. The murderer can kill, the writer cannot. That is the explanation that Maria never received. Now why give up catharsis by killing his character?
The killer, on several occasions feel mental distress when he has to take someone away, generating terrible anguish. Even so, he can overcome those feelings because his victims are people who – within his peculiar moral range – deserve to die. However, when his actions cause the death of his brother, he only has one purpose: to kill those responsible: Chema and him.
For the writer, the murderous catharsis ends when he realizes that the act of murdering can have dire consequences for the people he loves the most and thus allows that murderous instinct that has fed his character to finally die. And we can see that when the writer finally prints his work, and watches it before leaving, he feels that he has finally left a weight there, in the middle of those sheets.
9 | What other explanation can there be?
Well, a much simpler explanation, is that literally everything is real and that Q is both the killer and the writer, and that in the final scene, he simply attacks Fran before he shoots and that’s why we see him after finishing his writing . This explanation, while simple, fills the entire movie with story gaps, destroying the killer’s story arc. Why would the director give so much relevance to a scene, in which the subject simply regrets? No, the climax of the film is the moment when the writer finally eliminates his murderous fantasy, eliminating his character, on his own terms, within his own structure, within his own morals.
10 | What is the message of the film?
The message of the film is simple: Playing around with crime eventually gets a bill too expensive to pay. Like what happened to La Puri and Carretero, messing with criminals, be they low-cut or white-collar, always ends badly. La Puri has to face prison, Carretero had to face exile. And likewise, the writer in his work understands that these repressed criminal desires will finally have consequences if he does not address them. He knows it because he has seen it in his research, and he knows that if he continues to feed those desires the moment will come when they become reality. His solution? Eliminate the character that lives in that house in the swamp that most likely he and his brother end up selling, so that the Valencian orchard continues to grow and thrive, amidst reeds and eels.
Does this explanation sound good to you? Do you have any other explanation? The comments section is open, just below. If you liked the article, share it on your social media works. See you in the next Ending Explained, here at El Sabanero X.