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Silence

Aaron Hunt  
 
4.6
 
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Silence

Overview

Directed By
Official Synopsis
In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.
Genre
MPAA Rating
R

A pious pair of Jesuit priests embark to Japan on a curious inkling, hoping to usher calm to a nasty riddle that makes of their surely divine mentor, a god dissenter, an apostate. But, as they follow their itch, despite a considerably indexed danger, piety begins to look a lot like obstinance, and later, martyrdom, like a blinding ego. 

What comes to test these god-fearing ‘Padres’ (as they’re commonly regarded), you can’t imagine. Emerging from a fog that seems to ascend hellside up: Inquisitor Inoue (a legendary turn by Issey Ogata), a modest figure in the haze with a smile like a curved zipper, unrelenting good humor, and a blithe manner of persecution. The “tree” of Christianity, he asserts, cannot possibly take root in the soil of Japan; to which the Padre Rodriguez (Andrew Garfield) retorts: The officials must have poisoned the soil. 

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A trial of attrition transpires, as expected, in which the court hopes to coax Padre Rodriguez to renounce his faith amidst his Japanese Christians. The more he resists the seemingly menial dissent of placing his foot upon the fumi-e (religious carving of Jesus), the more his innocent followers will die, horribly intricate, deaths. Deaths which, between the Inquisitor’s raillery and his plenum’s achingly reasonable and polite discourse, blindsight us. So, comes to skepticism, a moral dilemma, deliberately designed by the authority.

Does the good Christian renounce his faith to put an end to treachery? What weight does that refusal really hold in the face of slaughter? Does Rodriguez, whose faith forms a schism, stick to his faith out of pride and ego, or selflessness? And, if selflessness, well – the fate of his followers? 

This moral trapeze parades at the center of a grander composition of opposing natures. Japan, depicted as a lurid green swamp through D.P Pietro’s anamorphic lenses, overwhelms these mingling peons, who’re often framed within nature’s frame; through cave entrances and heavy foliage. It will drain the Padres, make them limp and gaunt. Japan, in its nature and in its culture, will have these foreigners to chew on, and so its Inquisitor does. 

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Ostensibly smaller, but always prominent, is the drunkard Kichijiro, dependable only for his unreliability. He’s a Christian who won’t hesitate to spit on the cross to save himself, and who’ll come running back snot-nosed to Rodriguez for shrift. But more than comic relief, he offers a curious foil. He stomps away on his lord, but always returns for absolution. He saves himself and manages to maintain his religion, if not his dignity and pride. 

Rodriguez feels closer to him than any of his many beloved followers. They wish desperately for a tactile god, clinging to the Padres makeshift idols, and beads from Rodriguez’s rosemary. They call for “paraíso”, a paradise, that will find them now and not after. Rodriguez is uplifted. Does he not feel a sense of dutiful power? Padre Francisco (Adam Driver) observes him with suspicion from upon a knoll that Rodriguez, like all individuals unto themselves, cannot see over. Once lively villages will come to calamity and be lived in only by cats, good people will meet and say their goodbyes to a blade, and families will drown in the wake of God’s supposed mission. You’ll find that it’s not God’s mission, but Rodriguez and Francisco’s… And perhaps there’s hope in that, but Scorsese, in ultimatum, grants Rodriguez heroic absolution; do not pardon him.

The film will live and be remembered like so few films truly are, despite this. Remembered for the way it can make a screen read left to right like a salient text, remembered for the grand Inquisitor’s epic intonations, and remembered for its questions, not its answers. 

 

Stills courtesy of Kerry Brown

 

Editor review

Overall rating 
 
4.6
Entertainment Value 
 
4.5
Story/Writing 
 
5.0
Performance (Acting) 
 
4.5
Direction 
 
4.0
Production 
 
5.0

Silence

The film will live and be remembered like so few films truly are, despite this. Remembered for the way it can make a screen read left to right like a salient text, remembered for the grand Inquisitor’s epic intonations, and remembered for its questions, not its answers.

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