Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Film Review - Silence

Father Ferreira has not been heard from since he sent his last letter filled with atrocities targeted at details priests in1630's Japan. Father Ferreira was on a mission speaking mostly to peasants spreading the gospel of Deues as the locals call it. The Tokugawa Shogunate saw Christianity as a danger therefore they took extreme measures to stamp it out declaring an Edit of Expulsion in 1614.  Featuring the authorities main tactic of going directly after the priests themselves. If they apostatize (renouncing faith) the effect is significantly greater then creating peasant Martyrs. Fathers Rodrigues and Garrpe hear the contents of Ferreira's letter back in Portugal, don't believe the rumours that he apostatized so they are released to go out to find their mentor.

The pair encounter Kichijro (Yosuke Kubozuka) possessor of a dubious relationship with Christianity who will grow to be intertwined with Rodgrigues. They are lead to a village of the truly devoted hidden Christians lead by Ichizo (Yoshi Oida) and Mokichi ( Shin'ya Tsukamoto) the authorities soon arrive at the village looking for the Padres. It's during this time that the peasants demonstrate the true depth of their faith.

Writer Director Martin Scorsese presents a study of faith based on the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo separating the true believers from the tourists. The narrative shows in several instances that the truly faithful may not be the ones you'd expect A light moment of foreshadowing occurs early at the first dinner for the priests in the village where the peasants offer what they can to the visiting Padres Rodrigues and Garrpe rip into the food while the villagers take the time to do a proper grace that the sheepish Priest eventually join.

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto work shines bright in the production. The use of fog and shadow as the Priest are transported by boat to and from village locations is the epitome of eerie given the fact that there is a standing 300 piece of silver bounty on the head of any Padre turned over to ruling dynasty.

The best acting work comes from the Christian peasants. Starting with Yoshi Oida and Shin'ya Tuskamoto as Ichizo and Mokichi respectively and later Nana Komatsu as (Monica) the villagers show that they are willing to endure all manner of hardship, strife and torture to be true to the faith. They meet all punishment from the Authorities willingly almost with a smile as they believe if their life comes to an end in this world the next step promised to Christians is paradise where there is no suffering or hunger. The story is told from the perspective of Andrew Garfield's Rodrigues who has several tests of faith as he sees the horrors thrust upon the peasants and only receives silence in response to his prayers to God. Yosuke Kubozuka is both friend and foe as Kichijiro. He's always on the scene, struggles with weakness and sins also serves as a useful resource to Rodrigues journey in Japan.

Martin Scosese has crafted a deep prodding examination of faith that succeeds on all levels ironing out the imperfections of his earlier faith centric features Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ  there is no hard rock backing soundtrack here or quick edited jump cuts. Instead quiet stoic contemplation rules the screen as the missionaries and the converted fight to spread the word of the gospel in a land that the enlightened describe as a swamp where no new roots will ever take hold.

**** Out of 4.

 Silence | Martin Scorsese | Mexico/ Taiwan/ U.S.A. | 2016 | 161 minutes.

Tags: Japan , 17th century, Priests, Sacrifice, Portuguese, Dutch, Apoptoses, Martyrdom ,torture, Step.  



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