Sunday, March 12, 2017

Silence - Movie Review

Martin Scorcese's film is about two young students of a Catholic missionary who goes missing in Japan in the seventeenth century. The local samurai have tortured and threatened converted Japanese Christians and the missionaries and reconverted whom they could into Buddhism. What is left of the Christians is a group of scattered Hidden Christians. An alcoholic fisherman guides the young priests, a man with loose faith and low morals, a weak soul they think because he frequently walks over a figure of Christ when challenged by the samurai and thereby commits apostasy. Many of the faithful however die for their faith and do not commit this sacrilege.

One young priest dies trying to rescue locals who are being drowned by the samurai (they have many interesting ways to kill people slowly and painfully). The other priest is also caught by the samurai and kept in captivity. They want him to convert to Buddhism like his old guru, the missionary, who has converted to Buddhism and taken a Buddhist wife. The young man feels betrayed.

The disillusioned young priest walks on the figure of Christ and turns Buddhist too. But in the end we find that all those who have seemingly betrayed their faith under duress including the older missionary, the younger one and the alcoholic, have found ways to keep the faith in their heart as they die.

People can be tortured to show that they love or do not love, that they have rejected a faith, but it is always an act of survival and resentment. Perhaps it make their faith stronger. Happens in all relationships too perhaps - you cannot force someone either way.  Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield stand out as does the samurai and the alcoholic fisherman. Tortuously slow and hauntingly silent.

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