Review by Thomas Troyan.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Silence is a film which Martin Scorsese has been trying to make for decades. Based on the Japanese novel of the same name, it follows the story of two priests (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield), as they travel to Japan to find a third priest who was also their teacher (Liam Neeson). The two pupils heard rumors that their former teacher has renounced his faith after being tortured in japan, where Christianity was banned. What follows is a three hour journey that asks the viewer to question the meaning of faith.
The first half of the film focuses on the two priests journey to Japan. There they find a village full of Christians who much hid their faith to avoid torture or even death. The priests must hide in the shadows, only coming out at night so that they can deliver sermons and prayers. The movie shifts however whenever the Inquisitor, a character whose job it is to find hiding Christians, begins to torture the villagers that the priests have been aiding.
Throughout the film, Father Rodrigues (Garfield) must ask himself how important is one’s one faith when compared to the suffering of others. Numerous times throughout the film either he or some of the villagers must make the decision of either giving up their own fate, or enduring the suffering of either themselves or others. Scorsese separates the viewer form the suffering, showing the fate of the Christians from a distance, rather than up close. At times the only sounds that the viewer can hear comes from the pain of those being persecuted. This method of showing pain almost connects the viewer more to the struggles of that period, asking them to contemplate the harsh realities that the people of that time may have faced.
While the film is ambitious, and features some great moments I feel like it falls a bit short in a few places. The film poses numerous scenes that are powerful, but features just as many moments that are long, boring, or don’t serve much of a purpose. The film’s greatest achievement is an examination of faith and what it means to either keep or abandon it. While these questions are great points of discussion, the film isn’t always prepared to answer these questions, though that when the film does work, it does so beautifully.