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'Silence' explores themes of faith, abandonment

Martin Scorsese has always favored religion-based stories. Scorsese’s filmography includes several religious-themed movies, from 1988’s "Last Temptation of Christ," known for its notoriously humane depiction or Jesus, and 1997’s Dali Lama picture, "Kundun."

Scorsese’s passion project, "Silence," is one of his most ambitious films yet.

Maybe it’s a test of his versatility to follow up "The Wolf of Wall Street" with "Silence," but I’m impressed. This film proves he’s still able to bring art out of ink and paper.

"Silence" opens with Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) dropping to a kneeling position onto the ground where the Japanese hold him. He watches other Christians being tortured with boiling water. He is overwhelmed with survivor’s guilt, because he has allegedly denounced his faith to the Japanese, who at the time forbade Christianity.

When Father Rodrigues and Father Garupe (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) receive notice that their mentor, Father Ferreira, had denounced Christianity, they travel to Nagasaki to clear up their confusion. Their guide is a Japanese born-again Christian who had became an alcoholic when he betrayed the Lord previously.

In "Silence" we are exposed to some of the most indulgent scenery of Japan. We see shots of fog and mist steaming up from the crystal-clear water that surrounds gloomy mountainous, leafy region. It’s an unforgettable spectacle.

The priests are held in dismal conditions by the Japanese before a samurai attempts to retrieve them. They’re kept in hiding, not as a punishment but as a sign to the mainland Japanese. They will bring salvation to the Christians by forgiving their sins and bringing out a light, even if the natives won’t let them appear in the literal light.

Faith is a strong factor of the movie. As the Buddhists of Nagasaki are using all devices of torture to divide the Christians, the victims aren’t all forsaking their faith. As confirmed by Father Rodrigues, they firmly believe in the Christian belief that they’ll be resurrected to paradise.

The suffering in "Silence" is horrifyingly realistic. There’s a scene in which Father Rodrigues is being held in a crate and asks if someone can stop snoring, only to realize the sound was being made by fellow Christians.

Though he doesn’t have much screen time, Neeson shows he is making the most of his acting career with this role.

"Silence" puts Andrew Garfield’s acting talents on a pedestal. He portrays a priest whose duty is to spread the gospel but who is forced to withdraw from his duties.

"Silence" also shows Scorsese’s strength as a storyteller. Though silence was used in the film to depict spiritual abandonment, maybe the case is larger than that. Perhaps Scorsese intended the spiritual abandonment from God alone to be the "Silence."

Sean Koessler is a sophomore at St. Francis High School.


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