7:30 PM, 12th May, 2017
In the 17th century, after defeating a peasant uprising believed to have been incited by European Catholics, Japan’s ruling Tokugawa Shogunate set out to outlaw the practice of Christianity across the country. Christians that weren’t persecuted, tortured or killed by the Shogunate were forced to publicly renounce their faith, with many going underground in order to practice their religion clandestinely.
Silence is set in this world and follows two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Garfield and Driver) as they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Neeson), who is believed to have abandoned his faith. The priests are immediately drawn into the struggle of the hidden Christians, and find themselves forced to take drastic steps not only to survive, but to stay true to their beliefs while doing so.
In today’s era of endless sequels and prequels, films as daring and ambitious as Silence are about as rare as a Chris Hemsworth film where he keeps his shirt on. A 160-minute film about priests in feudal Japan doesn’t exactly scream ‘box office hit’, but this thankfully has one big thing going for it: Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese, himself a failed priest, has articulated his struggle with faith throughout much of his life’s work, but this is the summation of it all. Scorsese has been working on bringing Shusaku Endo’s novel to the big screen for nearly 30 years, and the end result is nothing but the work of a master: a passion project in every sense of the phrase.