I watched Silence, directed by Martin Scorsese, about a month ago and I’m still in catharsis. Silence is about two priests who travel to Japan to find their mentor and propagate Catholicism; however, it’s not a movie about religion. It’s way more and actually not too big about religion. Silence is about faith, determination, beliefs, globalization, and illusion. Faith and determination especially from Scorsese himself. Silence is a project he’s wanted to do for a long time.In fact, for more than 25 years Scorsese has been dreaming about making this movie. From my perspective, he created a beautiful and shocking piece of art that goes far beyond religion.
To start you off, let me tell you: I don’t consider myself Catholic. I believe in a powerful energy in the Universe, that you might call God. I do respect people’s beliefs and I would like to have you reading this article with an open-mind and no prejudices.
I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic school. My background was probably responsible for the immediate connection with the movie. Or maybe it was the way Scorsese built the characters (with humor, ambition, and strong convictions) is what sucked me into the movie.
Take this ironic scene as an example. After a long sea journey from Macao to Japan, Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver) arrive at the island at and meet a small group of Japanese villagers who are practicing Catholicism in secret. The priests were frightened, confused, and most of all, starving. When the villagers handed them some food, they gobbled it up right away while the villagers were still in prayer. The priests, realizing their sin, spat their food out and said their grace with the Japanese villagers before continuing to eat. After all, the bible says it’s important to say grace before eating, right? (Matthew 14:19–21; 15:34–36).
This part of the movie awakened so many memories, ideas, and questions in me. Like that time when the priest to whom I confessed for my First Communion spread to the whole town that I cried and had a impressive breathtaking confession for a 11 year-old. Wasn’t he supposed to keep the whole thing secret?
Or my idea that the Vatican City, being one of the richest countries on Earth, (Vatican Bank owns $8 billion in assets, CIA estimates that Vatican City’s 2011 revenue was $308m), why don’t they act more vigorously to combat hunger, diseases, and other’s tragedies around the world? Doesn’t the Bible say to share the bread with the poor? Proverbs 22:9
There are many others scenes in the movie that made me reflect about the irony of real life events. I’ve seen so many people proclaiming their faith and beliefs and acting in the exact opposite direction. There is a particular character Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka), who keeps asking for forgiveness for his transgressions all movie long.
How many people do you know that commit the same mistakes over and over again?
Anyway, watching Silence was a magical experience. Somehow the movie brought me memories of my History classes. I kind of saw myself again sitting in the front row listening attentively to my teacher Daniela Marques. Teaching History is about being a good storyteller, and that’s for sure what her and Scorsese are.
I just don’t understand why Silence had only one nomination: best cinematography. And yet had lost the Oscar to La La Land. Well, I just want to write about the movie and if you have watched already, write your impressions in the comments. I would love to read them.
PS. I usually don’t write about movies, but Silence really touched me. Last time I wrote a movie review it was about Django Unchained, by Quentin Tarantino (2013). If you want to see what I had to say about it click here (Warn: The link it’s in Portuguese though!)