“Legendary director Martin Scorsese’s Silence tells the stunning and “powerful” story of two Christian missionaries (Adam Driver and Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield) who travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Academy Award nominee Liam Neeson) at a time when Christianity was outlawed. When they are captured and imprisoned, both men are plunged into an odyssey that will test their faith, challenge their sanity and, perhaps, risk their very lives in this “passionate, harrowing, beautiful” masterpiece.”
Silence explores the strength of faith in one of the most beautiful films Scorsese has ever done. As the missionaries Rodrigues (Garfield) and Garupe (Driver) begin their search for their mentor Ferreira (Neeson) in Japan, they can’t help but feel the calling of the people who want to follow the teachings of Christianity. Giving blessings, sermons and confessions in secret in the dead of night, the two do all they can to spread their beliefs to those who are anxious to hear. The risk of being discovered is greater than ever, as those who are caught practicing or teaching Christianity are given the chance to renounce their faith by stepping on an image of Jesus. Those who are unwilling to do so are tortured and subjected to a slow, painful death. When members of the village are discovered, Rodrigues and Garupe can only watch helpless and in horror as the members of their congregation are slowly killed and burned, robbing them from a Christian burial.
The priests learn of possible news of Ferreira in another village, and decide to split up, one continuing the search for their mentor and the other staying at the request of the village members. It isn’t long until both men are captured, and thus begins a long and arduous series of brutal acts in which the Japanese inquisitor demands the men renounce their faith forever.
Silence is a difficult film to watch, for someone of any faith or belief. Scorsese’s fascination with religion and the battle of faith was always interesting to me, particularly in The Last Temptation of Christ, in which his exploration of Jesus’ life was met with controversy and sparked protests and violence. These themes are prominent in almost all of his films, but this time it is brought to the forefront. Does faith come and go so easily that you could renounce it for the purpose of self-preservation or the preservation of others? Or is it something worth dying for? These questions, along with how to preserve faith in face of such horror and violence is what drives this film, but the answers to those questions will be different for each person who views it. The film forces you to reflect on your own beliefs to answer these questions, which can be difficult to do.
Scorsese’s vision of the film is nothing short of spectacular. It is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen, which is ironic due to the horrific violence that takes place in its landscape. Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver go beyond giving amazing performances by transforming their bodies to reflect the characters they portray. Unnaturally thin, these two actors deserve real credit for committing to the art and bringing to life these characters who suffer tremendously in the name of religion. Liam Neeson, although doesn’t have a big presence until the end of the film, gives a great performance as well, full of emotion and heartache.
At a 160 minute runtime, Silence takes dedication to get through, especially due to the physical religious conflict in the film. Thankfully, Scorsese shows just as much beauty in his film as he does the horror, making Silence a film that any movie fan will want to see.
Silence is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen 2.39:1. The transfer is fantastic, with a nice level of grain, thanks to the movie being shot on film. Color levels are well balanced, with a gorgeous palate thanks to the wondrous landscape of Japan.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which boasts an impressive track. The center channel utilizes most of the use with the dialogue, but you will get a range of weather effects or other ambient sounds coming from the surrounds. Like the name suggests, the film can have large portions of silence, with no score to accompany the film.
This disc only contains one special feature. With a runtime of a little more than 24 minutes, this seems very inadequate to talk about the implications and themes of this film. We do get some good information from Scorsese, members of the cast and crew, but I would’ve like to see way more in terms of behind the scenes footage or discussion on the historical aspects of the film. Regardless, it is better than nothing, but hopefully a more definitive release may be considered in the future.
- Martin Scorsese’s Journey Into Silence
The powerful journey Silence takes the viewer on will be something that stays with you days after watching it. Although it may be a painful and difficult journey to get through, the reward is well worth it.