Silence is the most recent project from Director Martin Scorsese, it’s been a project he has been working on for some time, it almost seems as if such films as Mission and Last Temptation of Christ were a build up to this, since he has been planning on making this film for quite a while.
The film starts off with Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) watching his christian fellows being tortured slowly via boiling water poured onto them over the course of days. Then it cuts to a pair of Jesuit Priests being told Father Ferreira has renounced his face (apostatized) The pair of priests, one Rodriguez (Andrew Garfield) and Garupe (Adam Driver) recommend going to Japan to find Ferreira, to which the priest reading the rumor tries to stop, but eventually gives in and lets them be the last 2 Jesuits to go to Japan. At a port in China they find a native Japanese called Kichijiro who desire to go to Japan, joins them as a guide.
I won’t be spoiling the film if possible, but some bits may slip through or be inferred. The film is interesting though, it is this journey through misery, death and pain. It also asks questions, like whether or not it is right to renounce your faith in adversity, if it is okay to keep in and refuse to apostatize, at the price of others torture and pain, at what point does refusing to give up your faith become more a matter of pride then genuine praise of god? It asks these questions, and many others, none of which will be a simple answer, at least, to those of the faith.
The acting is utterly stellar in my opinion, Andrew Garfield’s reactions are spot on, his cries of anguish and sadness stab into your heart, and you really do feel as if the world truly has no hope in any place during this film. The Inquisitor
and his Japanese guards are in general intimidating, they have this sense of power, and of utter pride and almost righteousness in what they are doing. It really comes across as realistic,in the sense that their general culture and by extent attitudes come across as so different, almost otherworldly, at least to someone from the west at least. It really does highlight a difference in religious thinking for me. Or at least my views, whereas Europe is this religious fervor, the East, and Japan in this film as well, have this sense of knowing knowledge, of having deep wisdom, or acting as if they do at the very least, and that feeling comes across strongly in the film.
There are a couple of problems I have with the film though, mainly its length. It feels much too long, I personally feel some scenes could have been cut and still managed to get the message across, it’s not that a lot of a scenes aren’t important, but there are a few that are kinda just uninteresting and leave you looking around in the theater wondering how long you have left to go though it will typically pull you back into it in a matter of seconds.
Another gripe I have is the way the Japanese are shown, though the depiction of their attitudes are realistic, it feels like the film shoots it in such a way as to have the Japanese seem a bit too villainous for me. Their acting feels just a tiny bit too mustache twirling. It is a minor gripe, since most of the film I didn’t feel this but it came up now and again, so I thought I would mention it.
The film, of course, heavily features religion, talking about faith, betrayal of religion and forgiveness for such acts, and about at what points does your unwavering faith and your refusal to give it up at the price of others become almost monstrous and horrible, and of course the silence of god during adversity. It also shows the power of religion, about how it can give people hope, its power to give people strength and also gives you at least a small respect for those who never give up their faith, even in the face of their own death. It does creating and interesting juxtaposition, comparing the idea of refusing to give up religion in the face of pain and death, then having someone who refuses to give up their religion, despite the fact other people are being torture because of this fact.
The cinematography is simply amazing as well, the scenery is utterly beautiful and the entire landscape of, what is apparently Taiwan, is just so engrossing. It shows the rolling hills, the dark forests and run down peasant villages by the sea, the Japanese have these wonderfully elaborate costumes from history. The cities are beautifully realized and even the background character have costumes which make the world come to life in the scant few moments of time we spend out in the cities.
The characters are okay, I mean they aren’t bad but nothing to be amazed about, with the exception of Rodriguez (who is utterly stellar) no person in the film has much of an arc, his friend Garupe doesn’t have much of an arc really. There a couple of bits like when one person refuses to spit on a cross and as a result is killed, but it’s minor and nothing big. I suppose it is important to this sort of thing not to get distracted or bogged down with other characters, but near the latter half where the film gets a bit drawn out I felt myself wishing to see another character. Kichijiro shows up now and again but to be honest later in the film his character, his attitude and actions, as nice as it was for them to try what they did with him, just becomes a bit too ridiculous for my taste, they do bring it back round but it’s dumb for a while.
Silence in the end is an utterly wonderful film, its this menagerie, this collection of misery, of death, and of religion. It’s this journey through the horrors of humanity, and powering through religious persecution, and asks questions so as to make you feel as if it is up to you to decide as to whether Rodriguez made the right choices. It is a wonderful little film, which I recommend to everyone who has even a passing interest in religion, or is religious themselves, it a tremendously well made experience, and even if you aren’t a fan of such things, go check it out if you have some time or it’s out on the net, cause you might still like it.