Between Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Andrew Garfield has given two of the year’s best performances. In both of these films, Garfield interestingly plays men torn between their religion and survival. As Desmond T. Doss, Garfield portrayed a solider that stood by his ethics even in the face of certain death. His character is Silence, however, is a bit more complex. This film delves deeper into the cost of faith and asks many challenging questions. The results are breathtaking, heartbreaking, and nothing short of epic.
Between Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Andrew Garfield has given two of the year’s best performances.
Set in 17th century Japan, this adaption of Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel follows Garfield as Sebastião Rodrigues, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. Liam Neeson deserves Best Supporting Actor consideration for his work as Father Cristóvão Ferreira, Rodrigues’ mentor. Rodrigues receives word that the Japanese captured Ferreira, who gave up Catholicism after suffering unspeakable torture. Unwilling to believe that Ferreira would commit apostasy, Rodrigues sets out with Adam Driver’s Francisco Garrpe to find him. The two young priests have no idea what’s in store for them, though.
Upon arriving in Japan, Rodrigues and Garrpe encounter numerous Hidden Christians, members of the Japanese Catholic Church. These men and women are relentlessly hunted and forced to renounce their God. If they don’t comply, torture and eventual death await. Yōsuke Kubozuka notably injects some dark humor as Kichijiro, a man who claims he wants to follow the teachings of Jesus, but is about as reliable as Judas. Rodrigues eventually finds himself at the mercy of Inoue Masashige (Issey Ogata), who is determined to remove Christianity from Japan.
At first, Rodrigues seems confidant that he can hold onto his faith. As Rodrigues witnesses one horrific sight after another, however, he becomes at war with himself. There’s a devastating scene where’s reunited with Ferreira only to find that his mentor has seemingly been stripped of his faith. The audience can’t help but put themselves in Rodrigues’ place. Would you forsake your religion, stick to your morals no matter what, or hold your tongue in silence until the day you die? Even the holiest of people probably wouldn’t be sure under these circumstances. Likewise, we’re not sure what path Rodrigues will take throughout much of this film. Through one line and a bittersweet final image, though, his fate becomes clear.
On a technical level, Silence is one of the most polished projects Scorsese has ever taken on. Everything, from the cinematography to the art direction, is nothing short of stellar. Kim Allen Kluge and Kathryn Kluge’s musical score is particularly unique. Their compositions practically blend into the background, so much so that the audience is usually unaware that they’re hearing music. Scorsese also isn’t afraid to infuse his film with completely silence moments, allowing the emotional turmoil the characters are enduring to really sink in.
On a technical level, Silence is one of the most polished projects Scorsese has ever taken on.
While Scorsese doesn’t shy away from the atrocities the Tokugawa shogunate committed during the Edo period, Silence isn’t anti-Buddhism or anti-Shinto. It doesn’t champion Christianity as the one true religion either. Rather, Scorsese has made a film that’s simply pro faith. Silence not only inspires us to stand by our personal beliefs, but it also encourages us to not force those beliefs on others. Even in today’s world, people are still persecuted based on their religion. Some countries go to war over faith while others are putting up boundaries, despite the fact that many religions are supposed to promote love and togetherness. While this issue will likely be prevalent for many more years to come, Silence reminds us that the first step towards a brighter future is acceptance.