The passion project of Martin Scorsese finally comes to fruition. It took him 25 years to carve this beauty, and Silence Movie is in every way abounding with all the right emotions that we expected from it. The movie is based on the eponymous novel by Shusaku Endo and is about two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to find Father Ferreira, their mentor, at the same time spread Christianity in a chaotic land where Christian priests are unwelcome.
The flick is a spiritual sojourn where it tries to quest for humanity in a place and time that objects to new teachings and principles. Japan was ruled by a tyrant then who was bent on uprooting any kind of alien dissonance from its soil. Religion being one of those major issues that stood at his cross-hairs. The movie is driven forward by powerful performances by Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Issei Ogata and Yosuke Kubozuka.
Direction of Silence Movie (Spoilers)
Scorsese is hands down one of the best in the business. And he keeps reminding everybody of that every now and then with his superlative direction. The movie captures minutiae of life, creates real tension forcing us to relive it as if we were right there surrounded by some serious agitation. It shows an inhumane past of Japan that one shudders at the very thought of leading a life in that era.
He recreates crucifixion so powerfully that it draws out instant pathos from you, crushing you under the weight of emotions. Even when he builds up dispensable characters, he makes them so concrete that it becomes really hard to part with when time comes.
There are some brilliant diegetic moments scooched in, wherein Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) writes to Father Valignano (Ciaran Hinds) home and reads his thoughts through his letters. Then at times he speaks directly to God. They are so brilliantly written that you can’t help but empathize immensely with the protagonist.
The wait of your silence is terrible. I pray but I’m lost. Or am I just praying to nothing? Nothing. Because you’re not there.
Martin Scorsese also has that unpredictability quotient that we never see coming. We hope perversion relents, we hope heads wouldn’t roll but the fact is – you never know. The deafening silence of its melodrama is hard to fathom. You just keep hoping to hear a voice, throughout the Silence movie just like Rodrigues himself, but you know life’s like that.
There is this unique character Kichijiro played amazingly well by Yosuke Kubozuka. You can’t help but wonder about his presence in the movie. His story runs parallel to Rodrigues’ hunt to find Ferreira and on more than one occasions he betrays him and his own people. He apostates continuously and bounces back to confess his sin. He is constantly asking for forgiveness from Rodrigues, who keeps forgiving him for his sinful acts.
At one point he has been compared to none other than Judas. His sins are terrible and when you really try to figure him out, you understand he is nothing but a common man who is just trying to get by when things go south. At the same time, there is guilt in him. He is truly sorry for his acts but ends up repeating his mistakes when a challenging time comes. Kichijiro is just a weak man caught in a wild place. He has suffered profusely and he suffers every second of his life with guilt.
If you notice carefully you would realize how he never leaves Rodrigues at all, always winding up at his door asking for forgiveness. There is one scene in the end where Kichijiro tries to illuminate that flicker of faith back in Rodrigues even after he has apostatized.
I suffered beside you. I was never silent.
The above voice goes in the backdrop showing Kichijiro in the frame. It’s the voice of God speaking to Rodrigues once again trying to reason with him, telling him it was alright.
Even though Kichijiro had been a sinful man he teaches Rodrigues one important lesson. That despite apostatizing and renouncing God, you can always come back to Him because He always forgives. Something Rodrigues wasn’t sure about after he had apostatized.
It was in the silence that I heard your voice.
The Silence movie ends the way it had started, in silence, with sounds of nature all around, implying silence is never there after all. That all you gotta do is listen.
You can order Silence Movie from here:
The Raging Debate
While at a time where religion was trying to spread its wings in every corner of the world, this might have seemed quite okayish to exist, but in times like today, it ends up becoming one of the most controversial chapters ever. If you look at the movie cynically, you realize what were Father Ferreira, Rodrigues and Garupe (Adam Driver) trying to do anyway? Weren’t they trying to spread Christianity, forcing a religion on people? Whilst the Japanese Inquisitor confirmed the existence of Buddhism in their country, weren’t they still bent on giving a country a taste of their own medicine?
Then you see what that Inquisitor was doing after all. Wasn’t he killing his own people in the end, trying to apostate a foreign guy? What kind of ruler does that? Okay, don’t answer that, a bad one, I know. But still people are being killed in the name of religion. Was everyone blind to that? Why are people so terribly blinded they fail to see what’s beyond religion?
If you drift further away from religion here, if you are an atheist, then the very idea of it would seem quite absurd. First of all, you are trying to force a religion on someone, then because of your ideals you are getting people killed. Hadn’t any of the foreign priests stepped on their land in the first place, the massacre could have been entirely avoided. Even Rodrigues confesses to that idea secretly when he tells Garupe about how he felt.
Then again what is a religion if not a set of code of conducts and moral values to keep people in check? We created it for our own convenience. Like Marvel and DC stories are in vogue today, it might as well be a religion for some. Okay leaving this ceaseless debatable thread open right here.
Signs of Faith
Then there is that insanity of valuing things like fumi-e that are mere stones and wood that are considered as gifts from God.
They value these poor signs of faith more than faith itself.
While to some this might sound justified, but to non-believers this is really hard to gobble. Your inability to step on a mere rock is getting someone killed. If there is an even an ounce of compassion in you for another fellow being, you would do it eyes closed. How hard is that to fathom? Isn’t compassion, humility, and fraternity above God? Does God teach you to make his idols and objects and demand of you to treat Him with such reverence? If there was a God He wouldn’t ask you to be so foolish. He would willingly ask you to step on Him if you can’t help it.
Does God teach you to make his idols and objects and demand of you to treat Him with such reverence? If there was a God He wouldn’t ask you to be so naive. He would willingly ask you to step on Him if you can’t help it.
I think that’s what happened to Rodrigues when he chose to listen. That voice of God was nothing but his very own reasoning for himself, where he accepted renouncing God with a heavy heart.
The Final Verdict
I understand the Silence movie was supposed to be watched keeping faith in heart. But for those who have none, if you really look at it, the amount of torture, killing and mass murder that happened in the name of religion is simply appalling. I guess, it could have been avoided too. It is as if killing someone because someone chooses to believe in Superman‘s existence, and that I think is highly unacceptable.
In a world where we judge everything by our own conscience, by passing everything on the belts of morality, I think a movie like Silence poses a serious question. Why are we so blind? But if you get under the skin of Rodrigues, a dogged guy who cannot be moved from his beliefs, you begin to feel for him. You begin to empathize and when you do, it is hard not to cry. There are blood-curdling moments strewn all across the flick that ensures you leave the theaters teary eyed.
Wicked characters like that of the Old Samurai played by Issei Ogata, provide a convincing spread on the Endo story. The Silence movie ends up becoming a really powerful wrap capable of existing sturdily on its own sans the God factor.
It’s just the doctrine that it fights for might not be the same for everyone out there.
You can check out the trailer of Silence Movie here: