Sometimes Silence is the Deadliest Sound
In 1966, Shūsaku Endō published his critically-acclaimed novel “Silence”. For the last 30 years, Director Martin Scorsese has been attempting to faithfully-adapt the source material and he has finally achieved his great mission. “Silence” follows the story of two Portuguese, Christian missionaries in 17th Century Japan as they attempt to find their long, lost priest, Father Ferreira, who has allegedly apostatized and renounced his faith in a land where Christianity has been outlawed and its followers persecuted. As the pair, Father Rodrigues and Father Garupe, navigate the unholy lands, they are led by their guide, a Japanese defector named Kichijiro. As they live, they provide needed faith work to a local village of underground Christians, people who are so amazed and in awe of the slightest of Christian emblems. As The Inquisitor begins to eradicate the remaining signs of Christianity, our protagonists are left in constant wonder of not only God’s plan, but his existence in their beliefs as well.
Andrew Garfield stars as Father Sebastião Rodriges, one of the Padres from Portugal who have come to Japan to find Father Ferreira. Adam Driver plays his companion, Father Francisco Garupe. Liam Neeson plays their mentor and the lost priest, Father Cristóvão Ferreira. Tadanobu Asano plays “The Interpreter” in Japan. Ciarán Hinds plays the priest’s leader in Portugal, Father Alessandro Valignano. Issey Ogata plays Inoue Masashige, better known as “The Inquisitor”. Yoshi Oisa and Shinya Tsukamoto play Ichizo and Mokichi, two villagers who live underground lives as Christians. Yōsuke Kubozuka plays Father Rodrigues and Garupe’s guide through Japan, Kichijiro.
Martin Scorsese’s passion project, “Silence”, is remarkably profound and introspective; though not perfect, its message is strong and is incredibly well-acted! As the film opens, we hear noises on a black scree from the wilderness, until the sound cuts-out and shows the film’s title on screen. Our first image shows the violence and horrific acts against Christians; severed heads litter the landscape as other followers of Christ are being burned by boiling hot water slowly. As powerful as any opening scene in recent memory, it shows us the atrocities that were committed against Christians in Japan. Men, women, and children were tortured in a variety of ways and were ultimately killed to purge Japan if they refused to step on a Christian idol and renounce their faith. Scorsese is as visceral and transparent as he can be, providing a history lesson and a deeply-emotional journey simultaneously. The film is filled with beautiful imagery and landscapes, all thanks to the impressive cinematography on-display shot entirely on-location in Taiwan and Taipei. As I said earlier, “Silence” is supremely well-acted and authentic. Garfield continues his strong year with a courageous leading performance, as Driver commands the screen as well. The film’s true power though comes from its’ authentic Japanese performances from Japanese actors; particularly Ogata, Asano, and Kubozuka. Where “Silence” does struggle is in its pacing. While telling a long story, the film is really split-up in 3 sections. The first gets the story going as our priests travel abroad, the second drags as each shot is lengthened during our character’s indecision, and the film’s final third is by-far the most appropriately-paced as the true message of the story is uncovered. Too slow too often, I feel as if a few editorial changes and pacing mechanisms would have served to better the overall viewing experience. I walked out of the theater having enjoyed and appreciated the emotional journey I had just seen, reveling in its’ introspective features and how it made me feel about my faith. The true profoundness of the film hit me on the way home (and the days following) as it made me think about various aspects of the film: would I renounce my faith to save my life? If I were the Padres, would I be able to endure the countless deaths of the followers of Christ? These thoughts have been circling my brain since and I strongly believe all people of God see this film for their own introspective journey. “Silence” has a run time of 161 minutes and it moves very slowly through its journey, one of the biggest (few) complaints of the film. After 30 years, Scorsese has finally completed his passion project that has been so dear to his heart; and while not the usual thoroughly-entertaining affair that we’re accustomed to, “Silence” is a beautifully-shot and strong-acted profound narrative that demands the viewers to travel on their own introspective journey as well! One that will both brutally-punish and passionately-enrage you!
“Silence” is Martin Scorsese’s passion project about two priests who travel to Japan to find their missing mentor, at a time where Christianity is outlawed. The film features a handful on incredible performances, beautiful cinematography, and offers a deep and profound message that is introspective and authentic. If you are heading to the movies this weekend, “Silence” may be the film your soul has been looking for!
SILENCE is rated R for some disturbing violent content, in theaters JANUARY 13TH!