Silence

Silence

(2016)

Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson and Tadanobu Asano (Thor) star in Martin Scorsese's historical drama, based on the novel by Shûsaku Endô. The story follows two Jesuit Portuguese Catholic priests who, travelling in 17th century Japan to spread the teachings of Christianity, face violent persecution.... More

Scorsese has been developing this project since the early '90s and through the years, the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Benicio del Toro have been attached to star.Hide

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Flicks Review

As a lapsed Catholic I’m always keen on a tale that documents the folly, arrogance and optimism of religious conversion and missionary zeal, especially in a colonial setting. Also, I like Japanese food and Scorsese pictures so what could go wrong?... More

Not much as it turns out, though apart from a tea ceremony and some less than desirable snacks things are pretty grim on the catering front. There is, however, a smorgasbord of torture techniques to enjoy as this epic unfurls, a crucifixion in the surf amongst them. But 17th century Japan wasn’t fertile ground for Jesus, and in this film, the specific set of skills possessed by Liam Neeson’s Father Ferreira doesn’t include successfully converting more than a few hundred souls before losing his religion.

Sent to rescue him from the heathens and his apostasy are two fervent young Jesuit priests, played with naïve intensity by Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-man) and Adam Driver (Girls), but the show is well and truly stolen by the wonderful Issei Ogata as the Samurai inquisitor, possibly the most reasonable torturer in cinema history. Through him we get closer to understanding why the Japanese had no truck for this introduced spiritual species. He’s also the only flicker of comedy in this slow moving religious western.

Scorsese’s take on Shūsaku Endō ‘s 1966 novel basks in the rhythm and rhyme of Catholicism and doesn’t bludgeon with sermon. But nor does it have the charm or power of his best work. It reminded me of a rosary: repetitive, a little boring, but also calming and mesmerising. It’s a punishing journey to be sure, but if you can handle a marathon, that’s also the beauty of it. You’ll want it to end, until it does.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 6 ratings, 4 reviews
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BY Newt superstar

For a two and a half hour epic, Silence has a sustained watchable quality about it mostly due to the relentless conflict and oppression portrayed on screen. It never bores or slows to a crawl. Every shot is artful and the setting of a 1600's Japan, protective of its culture's preservation, radiates a harshness that makes for engaging viewing. Andrew Garfield is great and his screen time is as great as it is in Hacksaw Ridge. The Japanese cast, but particularly Yōsuke Kubozuka as Kichijiro is a... More strong point of the film also.Hide


A Scorsese film cannot be taken lightly. This film tells the story of two very earnest young Jesuit priests in search of their former teacher and mentor who is said to have apostatized during intense persecution of Christians in Japan during the 17th century. As a portrayal of the inner workings of the mind and spirit under extreme provocation it is masterly. A film that will leave a lasting imprint.


BY cinemusefilm superstar

The history of humanity is also the story of violence between conflicting belief systems. The worst of it has always existed along the thin dividing lines that separate the religions of the world. These are perhaps the biggest themes that film can portray, overarching the primal emotions of love, hate, and fear. This is the grand stage on which Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016) plays out an historical drama of epic proportions. It is a political treatise on the nature of faith viewed through a... More post-colonial lens that explores how one belief system sought to impose itself upon another.

As complex as its themes are, the film’s plotline is simple. Set in 17th century, two Jesuit priests journey from Portugal to Japan in search of their monastery leader who has reportedly renounced his faith. It was a time when every vestige of Christianity was brutally suppressed by Japanese rulers through extensive public renunciations, torture, and executions. The Jesuits find villages of underground Christians who welcome the priests as messiahs. They administer sacred rites and preach to the faithful who believe the path is restored to the kingdom of heaven. The authorities hear of the Christian resurgence but even torture and killings will not force the villagers to betray the priests. They are finally captured and their choice is to renounce their faith or be forced to watch more killings.

Up to this point in the story it is a sweeping narrative of bold adventurism, religious persecution, and richly detailed contrasts between Christian and Oriental cultures. Two hours into the story, the film turns into a psychological thriller when the surviving Jesuit comes face-to-face with the renounced mentor he once revered. The dialogue of this meeting is some of the most existentially challenging commentary upon the nature of faith you will find on film. In portraying the immense chasm between apostate and disciple, the film explores the arrogance of religious colonialism; the interplay of personal ego, faith and self-sacrifice; and the incompatibility of two culturally divergent belief systems. The final chapter of the film provides the narrative space in which the Jesuit must confront his god and himself.

By its nature, this is a polarising film. It is criss-crossed with political and religious dogma and the history of colonial conquest. It is rich in Christian metaphor, with several scenes evoking the Passions of Christ, the Crucifixion, and the nature of sin and salvation. Some audiences will view it through the lens of their own religious beliefs, but most will recognise this as a monumental Scorsese work. At two hours and forty minutes it requires investment and some will find the pace uneven. Even here, metaphors are at work as the compression and de-compression of time mimics the tides of religious history. As similar stories could be told in different lands, some might find the portrait of cruelty in Japanese history one-sided. But there is no doubting that this is masterful storytelling with a fine cast and stunning cinematography that offers provocative insights into the nature of faith.Hide


BY JackWallace superstar

Martin Scorsese is probably my favourite director. I've loved a lot of his films, but Silence was a real disappointment. I appreciate the craftsmanship, it's a beautiful looking film. The cinematography is amazing. But this was about as exciting as watching paint dry. It's 161 minutes long and extremely slow paced and repetitive. There's a scene where Andrew Garfield looks into a puddle of water and sees the face of Jesus and it looked terrible. I really found Silence hard to sit through and... More wouldn't recommend it even if you're a Scorsese fan. Grade: CHide


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The Press Reviews

  • Scorsese has hit the rare heights of Ingmar Bergman and Carl Theodor Dreyer, artists who found in religion a battleground that often left the strongest in tatters. It's a movie desperately needed at a moment when bluster must yield to self-reflection. Full Review

  • ...of his [Scorsese's] explicitly religious dramas, specifically including Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ, this is, by a considerable distance, the most eloquent and coherent. Full Review

  • A taxing film that will not only hold up to multiple viewings, but practically demands them. Full Review

  • With ambition and reach, and often a real dramatic grandeur, Scorsese's film has addressed the imperial crisis of Christian evangelists with stamina, seriousness and a gusto comparable to David Lean's. Full Review

  • Less showy than The Last Temptation Of Christ, more gripping than Kundun, the third part of Scorsese's unofficial 'religious' trilogy is beautifully made, staggeringly ambitious and utterly compelling. Full Review

  • This anguished, contemplative new movie, which [Scorsese] spent nearly three decades coaxing into celluloid reality, carries the weight of a career summation. Full Review

  • There's a crushing lack of urgency to this story and its telling, perhaps because it took Mr. Scorsese, who wrote the script with Jay Cocks, so long to make "Silence." Full Review

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