A Question of Silence

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A Question of Silence
VHS cover
Directed byMarleen Gorris
Produced byMatthijs van Heijningen
Written byMarleen Gorris
StarringEdda Barends
Music byLodewijk de Boer
Martijn Hasebos
CinematographyFrans Bromet
Edited byHans van Dongen
Distributed byQuartet Films (USA)
Release date
  • 18 February 1982 (1982-02-18)
Running time
92 minutes

A Question of Silence (Dutch: De stilte rond Christine M.) is a 1982 Dutch drama film written and directed by Marleen Gorris. It is Gorris' debut film. It stars Edda Barends as Christine M. The plot is about three women, are strangers to each other, who kill a man they do not know. It was highly controversial but also highly acclaimed at the time of its release, and is now hailed as a feminist classic.[1][2]


Christine is a housewife, who does not speak. Her husband works while she stays home with their three children. Andrea is an executive secretary in an office predominantly run by men. Annie is a jolly waitress at a local café. These three women have never met before until one day in a dress boutique. Christine attempts to shoplift a dress by slipping it into her bag. She is approached by the male owner of the store. After refusing to return the garment, Andrea and Annie join Christine in a circle around the man. Together, the three women brutally murder him as a group of women stand and silently but attentively watch.

Female criminal psychiatrist, Janine, is appointed to the case of these three women by the court to determine if they are sane or crazy. Janine takes the time to get to know each woman and their story. None of the three will say why they committed the crime, Janine comes to realize they were fed up with the strain of living in a patriarchy. After much deliberation, she concludes that they are all sane and finds herself identifying with them. Eventually tensions rise between Janine and her husband because he worries her statement in court will ruin his reputation.

The court date arrives and Janine gives her professional opinion that the three women are in fact sane and that the court should take into consideration that the owner of the boutique was a male. Despite the prosecutors attempts to get her to change her opinion, she stands her ground. When the prosecutor suggests that the crime would have still happened if the owner were a woman, Christine, Andrea, Annie, Janine and the other women who witnessed the crime all laugh and exit the courtroom.



A Question of Silence was shown at the 1982 Toronto Festival of Festivals. That year it won the Grand Prix at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival and the Golden Calf at the Nederlands Film Festival.[3] The film had its 30th anniversary screening at the 2012 London Feminist Film Festival.[4]

  1. ^ Kamir, O. (2006). Framed: Women in Law and Film. Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822336242. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  2. ^ Birch, Helen (1996-09-18). "Over stepping the line". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  3. ^ "Awards for Stilte rond Christine M., De". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
  4. ^ "Fri 30 Nov 6.30 PM: FEMINIST CLASSIC – A Question of Silence". London Feminist Film Festival. 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2017-03-24.

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