Thoughts on “Silence”

Hello, everyone. We’re going to do something different on the blog today. I’m going to be talking about the film, Silence. I saw it last week and have been wanting to talk about it, but it’s taken me a while to collect my thoughts. For those of you who don’t know, Silence is a movie about two Jesuit missionaries who travel to 17th century Japan to seek out their brother priest, who appears to have gone missing.

This post is going to be something between a review and an analysis, so if you don’t want the movie to be spoiled, then don’t read any further until you’ve watched the movie. For those of you who have seen it or don’t care about being spoiled, feel free to pass go and collect your $200.

 

After trying to write a lengthy review about this movie, I decided to keep it to a bullet point list of my thoughts. Before anything else, I should define the term apostasy, since it is one I will use often. Apostasy means to reject or to turn away from a faith or belief system in favor of a different one. This has been symbolized in such ways as stepping on a rosary or a cross or, like in the film, an image of Jesus. For more information about this, click here. If you’d like me to elaborate on any of these bullet points, feel free to ask in the comments.

  • This film is so respectful of both sides, the persecuted and the persecutors, and allows both sides to explain their viewpoints on Christianity and its place in Japan. And while there is a lot of debate both within the film and externally about whether or not the apostasy committed is justified, the film offers no definitive judgement about it, letting the viewers decide for themselves if those who renounce the faith were right in doing so. While I disagree with apostasy and the idea that Christ would move anyone to apostasize (as he does so in the story with Fr. Rodrigues), it was an interesting way of portraying such a complex and difficult situation.
  • The use of color in this film is fantastic, though sparing. The only colors that are used are the reds of fire and blood, the blue of the sea where Christians are drowned, the multiple greens and muddy browns of Japan itself, and the white of the Buddhist/Shinto authorities dwellings and the fans they use. And of course, the white of the Easter lily at the end.
  • Rodrigues, played by Andrew Garfield, is an amazing character. Though not much is revealed about his past, I could tell he grew up like a lot of Catholic kids (including this one), learning the stories of the martyrs and looking up to them and not really considering what martyrdom actually looks and sounds like. And when he does see and hear the terrible truth that is martyrdom, he doesn’t like what he sees and hears. And it does cause him to question if such suffering is worth it, especially since God seems silence throughout.
  • Can we talk for a moment about Fr. Garupe, Adam Driver’s character? Holy moly, he was totally different than what I thought he was going to be. The trailer revealed him to be a questioning sort of fellow, and that’s exactly what he is. Throughout their time in Japan, he is questioning while Rodrigues is quiet, doubting where the other is faithful. Yet he does not apostasize (at least I think he doesn’t, I might be wrong about that) and dies a martyr’s death while trying to save one of the Japanese faithful. Even if he did apostasize, it still was a brave way to die and one I wouldn’t have thought his character capable of. Yet some of the greatest saints started out as people seemingly the least likely to become holy.
  • I can’t remember where this happens in the film, but at some point Fr. Rodrigues tucks the little crucifix from his rosary into the waistband of his pants. You don’t see that crucifix again until the end of the film (which was a tremendous way to end it). That really struck me because it’s an incredible visual metaphor for what he had to do after publicly denouncing the faith and agreeing to live as Japanese. Christians have been under persecution in different parts of the world since the Crucifixion and that simple action was a nod to this fact while showing that he had tucked his faith away in the most intimate part of himself.
  • I really like that, however much people aposticized and stepped on icons of Jesus, the images never got dirty, no matter how muddy people’s feet or shoes were.
  • The one character I got incredibly frustrated with was Kichijiro. He aposticized, then kept coming back to Fr. Rodrigues for confession again and again. I was so annoyed with him, especially in the middle of the movie (when he gives up Fr. Rodrigues to the officials) and I wondered why he didn’t just give up and either live the faith or leave the faith. Then I realized that I do exactly what Kichijiro does, every time I sin and turn back to God in the sacrament of confession, only to sin again. And I felt ashamed at my annoyance.
  • I was so pleased to see, before the credits started rolling, that they dedicated the film to the Japanese martyrs, with the postscript of the Jesuit’s motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, “For the greater glory of God”. It just made me think that there is no better way to honor the sacrifice of those brave people than to tell their story in such a wonderful, honest piece of art. I had also been listening to Hamilton earlier that morning and seeing this movie truly drove home the point that we “have no control who lives who dies, who tells our story.” It makes me wish that all martyrs and indeed, everyone, could have their lives told in such a beautiful way.

Have you seen Silence?  If you have, let me know what you thought about it in the comments. If you’d like a much more detailed and much better analysis than mine about the movie, watch this video. Also, if you’re looking for a good Catholic youtuber, you should watch this guy’s videos. He’s pretty great.

That’s all I have for now, everyone. Thanks for reading this ramble. Before I forget, I had another story published by the good folks at 101 Words. If you want to read it, click here. It’ll be permanently archived on my writing page, which I am planning on reformatting soon so it doesn’t look like such an eyesore. I hope you’re all having a fantastic Sunday and I will write again soon. Bye!

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