Dir. Martin Scorsese
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Ciarán Hinds, Issei Ogata, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Yoshi Oida, Yôsuke Kubozuka
“I pray but I am lost. Am I just praying to silence?”
I was invited to see an advance screening of this film, it’s due for release on 1st January 2017. All I knew about it beforehand was that it was about persecuted Christians in 17th century Japan – and it was about 160 minutes long … so I found a comfy seat and settled down.
The film begins with a graphic scene of Japanese Christians being tortured with boiling water, observed by Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who is forced to watch having been captured for propagating Catholicism.
We then see two young Jesuit priests: Father Rodrigues (Adam Garfield) and Father Garppe (Adam Driver), back in Portugal, who have heard reports that Ferreira has renounced his faith, so they head off to Japan to find their mentor and discover the truth.
This is a powerful film that is incredibly challenging and well-acted. It is based on Shusako Endo’s historical novel and depicts the clash of cultures between East and West.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, ‘Silence’ shows the relentless testing of the Japanese Christians. It certainly challenged me to consider how I would react when faced with extreme torture and even death – could I stand firm and hold on to my faith? Or would I apostatise, abandoning my beliefs to save my skin?
As the two young priests search for their mentor they come across several villages where Christians live, existing in continuous fear and secrecy. They only meet under cover of darkness, but their faith in God is so strong that when they are confronted by the ‘Inquisitor’, they would rather face a torturous death than renounce their beliefs.
‘Silence’ also confronts the issue of calling out to God and not hearing a reply. When faced with uncertainty or a difficult decision, many of us pray in the hope we will have a clear reply, or see God intervene in the situation. How do we cope when all we experience is silence?
It might be a bit epic in length, but it certainly doesn’t drag – I found it to be a compelling film and I would recommend you get to see it when it’s released.