Silence (2016) – Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s beautifully shot passion project, Silence, is unveiled on blu-ray from Paramount Pictures today. Based on the novel by Shusako Endo the film is vibrant and gorgeous, while it plays with some tough questions about religion, faith, cultures and beliefs.

Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson share top billing in this film, but it is very much Garfield’s film, and his power as an actor is front and centre.

Garfield and Driver play Jesuit priests Rodrigues and Garupe, who, in the 17th century, journey to Japan, where Christianity is outlawed to find their missing mentor, Ferreira (Neeson).

They find their way into the secretive country, connecting with a small village who keeps their own religion secret from the Inquisitor, Inoue (Issei Ogata). If caught the Inquisitor and his men promise nothing but torture, and death unless they renounce their beliefs.

As the film plays out, amidst Oscar nominated cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto (I could rave here about the gorgeous transfer and the way the image is sharp and beautiful on the screen, but if you have a blu-ray player, you expect that – and this one pays off, it’s simply beautiful), we travel with the two priests until events cause them to separate and each fall into the hands of the Inquisitor. We follow Rodrigues and the tests of his faith, and his soul, as Japanese Christians are tortured before his helpless eyes.

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He questions everything, including his own faith, and even though I am not a believer, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t affected by the story.

Before I go further I should state the following, Scorsese is an amazing director, and this film proves he’s still at the top of his craft. Having said that, I’m not the biggest fan of the material of some of his other films, I’ve never been into Mafia and crime stories, although his remake of Infernal Affairs, The Departed is a damned fine film. So this film was an exceptional watch. It take its time to put us through the experiences that the priests went through, and it demonstrates that Scorsese knows how to paint with pictures, the images are stunning, the green of the fields, boats and people coming out of the mist, watching helpless from afar and through bars as people pay the prices for their beliefs.

It was an amazing watch, and Garfield proves himself equal to the task, as he suffers in his own way, struggling and confronting the questions that are posed to him.He embodies the man of faith who comes in conflict with himself, and the culture around him, whether intentionally or not.

About two thirds of the way through the film, you realise that both sides of the discussion are right in their way. And at that moment the film becomes cinema, and art, because it raises questions, sparks debate and inspires thought, something Scorsese has always been good at, no matter his subject matter.

The home video release of Silence includes a twenty-four minute behind the scenes look at how Scorsese and his talented cast and crew brought the film to life, and honestly, I could have sat through another hour of that! I loved seeing how this film was created, and the hard work that went into creating it.

Silence is available today on DVD and blu-ray from Paramount Pictures.

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