Silence directed by Academy Award Winning Director Martin Scorsese tells of the story of two Jesuit missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who travel to Japan in the 16th century to learn of the whereabouts of there revered father and mentor in the faith Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). There they meet many underground Japanese Christians and through incredible tests of their faith through persecution and illusions of deception are forced to ask questions and make decisions that will change their perspectives on faith and the world around them.
It’s been hard for me to decide how to approach this review. To be frank it exceeded my expectations. I came to be entertained–I left feeling ravaged, yet somehow better for it. Part of me wants to tell you–to warn you rather, of everything you will see– every plot convention, sub point, theme, and philosophy that will scream out to you in this film. The other part stops me from doing this, it tells me to let the viewer decide how he or she feels. Let the viewer look at this film through his own eyes and heart and choose how his world is affected. I think that’s what Martin Scorsese desired as well. He doesn’t glorify or sensationalize the concepts of persecution, religious devotion, and apostasy. He merely states these concepts and welcomes the audience to partake in one of the most haunting journeys through every question that a Christian has ever thought or should have thought regarding Jesus Christ, his suffering, and His apparent silence through times of struggle or adversity.
I’m not going to talk about the ordinary things that come with my reviews–my opinion on plot structure, characterization, and overall flow of the film. All of those things are excellently portrayed. It’s a phenomenal film–the type that only Scorsese can make. It’s also a very clean film. No sexual themes, nudity, or offensive language is present. However many will be offended–many will be angered–many will feel like I did. I can honestly say that I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie that affected me so deeply. I can’t stop thinking about the power I felt in that theater–the source of that power being spiritual in nature–almost supernatural. There’s not a lot I can say about the conviction I felt without giving away the the film’s key plot conventions but I’ll say this–the prominent themes contained in the narrative caused me to reexamine my attitude toward Christianity and even my existence and relationship as a human being in a sin sick world. One of the film’s primary examinations is essentially the reconciliation between our love for God with our love for man in a way that causes one to ask some pretty harrowing and unorthodox questions about our Christian faith and the world’s reception of such faith. The backdrop of 16th century Japan becomes a graveyard for our lofty aspirations–a place where flighty and feelings based Christianity goes to die. It’s an unforgiving story. It demands answers that many have no answer to and makes accusations that are hard to defend. It offers hope, then rips that hope away as soon as it appears. It does whisper strength but only if you listen through the silence to hear the still small voice of the Savior.
When I left the theater I sat in my car for a long time and stared out the window. I wanted to cry, pray, scream–and most importantly reflect upon my life. I felt empty–yet full. I felt scared–but alive. These are the types of feelings this film elicits. This is the reason why not every person should see this film unless that person is ready to have their soul carefully and methodically inspected and judged. Don’t watch this movie if you’re feeling weak, unsure, or unstable in your beliefs. Because quite frankly–I don’t think you’re ready for such a film. I know I wasn’t.