The story of two Catholic missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) - at a time when Catholicism was outlawed and their presence forbidden.
Martin Scorsese had been talking about directing an adaptation of this film since the 1980s and entered the first of many written agreements with Cecchi Gori Pictures in 1990. At the time it was to be the next feature Scorsese directed after Kundun (1997). He then opted to direct a series of features, including Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004), allegedly agreeing to direct the film after the latter, which didn't happen. Following another negotiation, Scorsese agreed to pay various fees after each feature he directed prior to the adaptation, including The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010) and Hugo (2011). On August 22, 2012, after Scorsese agreed to direct The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Cecchi Gori Pictures sued him and Sikelia Productions, claiming two breaches of written contract, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation. The final two charges stemmed from their belief that Scorsese and Sikelia Productions falsely represented their plans to make this film after "Hugo," which included $1.5 million plus 20% of all "back-end" compensation received by the director, related to "Hugo." Scorsese claimed the lawsuit "has all the earmarks of a media stunt," and for a while it looked like the film would stay in limbo. On January 17, 2014, all sides reached a legal settlement. The film was finally in production, solidifying its spot as Scorsese's next feature after The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). See more »
Father Rodrigues meets Monica and he asks her name. Once told, he replies "ahhh, like the mother of (St.) Augustine." He pronounces "Augustine" as "Oww-gus-teen" not the correct "Ahh-gus-tin" in English. See more »
1633. Pax Christi. Praised be God. Although for us there is little peace in this land now. I never knew Japan when it was a country of light, but I have never known it to be as dark as it is now. All our progress has ended in new persecution, new repression, new suffering. They use ladles filled with holes so the drops would come out slowly, and the pain would be prolonged. Each small splash of the water was like a burning coal. The Governor of Nagasaki took four friars,...
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For the Japanese Christians and their pastors Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam See more »
It's Scorsese. Martin Scorsese. He makes the best films. Is this one of his best? Hmm....
It's a personal/religious epic, but it's all about the interior self - an intimate epic, which is always the toughest to pull off. Silence chronicles morality in such a way that is staggering and with very few specks of light (that is, brief relief through laughter - it does come through the character Kichijiro, more on him in a moment), and it's practically an anomaly to be released by a major studio with such a budget and big stars. This is a story that comes from history you rarely ever get to see anymore - history from a country like Japan that doesn't involve samurai (at least how we see them) and dealing with Christianity vs Buddhism - and it's directed with a level of vision, I mean in the true, eye-and-heart opening sense that declares that this man still has a lot to say, maybe more than ever, in his latter years.
Silence is, now pondering it hours after seeing it, possibly the best "faith-based" film ever made (or at least since Last Temptation of Christ); in its unintentional way, a great antidote to those pieces of garbage like God's Not Dead and War Room which preach only to a select few and insult the intelligence of everyone else. In this story of Jesuit priests who go on a journey to find a priest who may be long gone but could be found and brought home, it's meant for adults who can and should make up their own minds on religion and God, and the persecution part of it isn't some ploy from the filmmakers for fraudulent attention. This is about exploring what it means if you have faith, or how to question others who do, and what happens when people clash based on how people see the sun. Literally, I'm serious.
It's also heavier than most other films by this director, which is good but also tough to take on a first viewing. And yet it feels always like a Scorsese film, not only due to the rigorous craft on display (I could feel the storyboards simmering off on to the screen, I mean that as a compliment, this is staggeringly shot by Rodrigo Prieto, I'm glad Scorsese's found another guy), or the performances from the main actors (Garfield is easily giving his all, and not in any cheesy way, Driver's solid, Neeson seems to be paying some sort of penance for some mediocre action fare), but because of a key character: Kichijiro.
He's someone who really fits in to the Scorsese canon of characters who are so tough to take - he makes things difficult for Rodrigues, to say the least, and yet keeps coming back like some sad pathetic dog who can't make up his mind - but, ultimately, the toughest thing of all for this Father, as it must be for this filmmaker, is 'I know he is weak and irrational and probably bad in some way... but he must be loved as all of other God's children.' So as far as unsung performances for 2016 go, Yôsuke Kubozuka follows in a tradition set out by none other than De Niro (think of him in Mean Streets and Raging Bull, it's like that only not quite so angry).
I may need another viewing to fully grasp it. But for now, yes, see it, of course. For all its length and vigorous explorations and depictions of suffering (occasionally highly graphic), not to mention the, for Scorsese, highly unusual approach of a lack of traditional (or any) music or score, it's unlike anything you'll see in cinema this year, maybe the decade, for pairing the struggle of a man to reconcile his God and his responsibility to others in a repressive regime with the visual splendor of something from another time - maybe Kurosawa if he'd had a collaboration with Bergman. And yet for all of this high praise, there's also a feeling of being exhausted by the end of it. Whether that exhaustion extends to other viewings I'm not sure yet. As a life-long "fan" of this director, I was impressed if not blown away.
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