Silence Reviewed By Jarred Tito

The Premise
The story of two Catholic missionaries (Garfield and Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Neeson) - at a time when Catholicism was outlawed and their presence forbidden.

The Review
An intriguing film that left many questions around the whole notion of the introduction of the Catholic church and faith, in particular the Jesuit branch, to Japan and probably the whole of Asia. There are many points of discussion around the whole subject of religion and culture and how the two entities react and interact that I am sure will occur from many theologians and would-be scholars. If this film wasn’t called ‘Silence’ a possible second choice could be ‘Interpretation’ as much of the dialogue is around how individuals, as well as ethnicities, perceive spiritual doctrine and enlightenment. An epic filmmaking venture that apparently was in the making for ten years which is very thoughtful and spiritual, emotional and natural. I found myself engaged in two separate discussions around the whole subject.

There is a real sense of the struggle between the ‘flesh and the spirit’ throughout the story which adds a lot of tension. Possibly one of Scorsese’s boldest film’s in the respect that it is made without reservation or fear of causing offense around these notions. I would like to hope that the content of the story was as close as possible to the events of the day, but being that this is a period piece set back in the 1500s, which is also an adaption of Shusaku Endo’s novel of the same name, I would expect that there is a lot of room for artistic license. However, this is certainly a very artistic movie which has also been referred to as a ‘passion piece’ and considered as one of Scorsese’s finest works.

The pace is very slow and the scenes are quite serene which forces you the viewer into a meditative state as you attempt to piece together the internal dialogue of the characters. ‘Silence’ is deliberately silent through many parts of the film, particularly at the beginning, which is a reflection of not just the title but also of the controversial narrative of whether the whole idea and belief system of religion is relative to an individual present state of being or rather an ideology which finds its legitimacy only in a social structure.    

The Verdict
I’m not sure that I would refer to this film as either entertainment or an historical account though it clearly has aspects of both. For me it was more of a personal spiritual journey through the eyes and lives of others. The story is of course based in Japan and is set hundreds of years ago, however, the internal theme transcends time and location. It is ‘art’ and it will be controversial for some but it is well done and offers lots of food for thought. I would have loved to have seen Daniel Day-Lewis, Gael García Bernal and Benicio Del Toro in the movie (originally cast for the three main roles) but the three actors who play the main parts were outstanding too.  Don’t expect Ben Hur or the Mission but do expect a thoughtful and provoking tale worth watching.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 16th February 2017
Rating: TBC
Duration: 159 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield, Ciaran Hinds, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Shin'ya Tsukamoto
Director: Martin Scorsese (The Mission, Hugo, Taxi Driver)

The Extras
Daniel Day-Lewis & Liam Neeson replaced each other in projects that were both grounded in development for years. Neeson was set to play the lead role of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (2012) for years while it was stuck in development. When Neeson dropped out of the project, Day-Lewis was brought in as his replacement. Ironically, Neeson would replace Day-Lewis in this film after Day-Lewis was set to play the role of Father Ferreira for years while it too was stuck in development.

When the project was announced, Daniel Day-Lewis, Gael García Bernal and Benicio Del Toro were cast in the lead roles. Day-Lewis was originally set to play Father Ferreira, Bernal was initially set to play Father Rodrigues, & Del Toro was formerly set to play Father Francisco Garrpe. They all dropped out of the project after repeated delays in the production's development. Bernal & Del Toro were replaced by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver respectively while Liam Neeson replaced Day-Lewis.

Screened early to four hundred Jesuit Priests In Rome.

According to Liam Neeson, director Martin Scorsese is "intimidating" on the set and "he requires absolute silence...if he hears one tiny sound, it shatters it for him."

Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Jay Cocks had written an early draft of the film in the 1990s with the intention of Scorsese directing it after Gangs of New York (2002). But when Scorsese couldn't get financing for the project, he decided instead to do The Aviator (2004).

The story is based on actual historical facts, but while keeping the character name of the hero's mentor Father Ferreira who was an actual historical figure, author Shusaku Endo changed the nationality of hero who historically was an Italian called Giuseppe Cara to Portuguese, thus making him the same nationality as Ferreira, and gave him the fictional name of Sebastian Rodrigo (in the English translation, translated as Rodrigues).