Sunday, August 27, 2017

Movie Review - Silence

Yes...another movie review. Weekend goes by with at least one or two movies. I would normally not watch Silence, it seems a little too serious to me, but I am glad I watched it. It was a slow but engaging movie. With a great actor, Liam Neeson, although in a small but key role, but the major kudos go to Andrew Garfield.

The movie is set in 17th century Japan when Jesuits traveled with trading ships to proselytize the Japanese. The traders were Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish...maybe more. But this story is about the Portuguese Jesuit priests. Liam Neeson (Father Farreira) had gone to Japan and not returned, gone silent. Two young priests, Garfield (Rodriguez) and Driver (Garupe) take it upon themselves to go and look for him. They both land on an island where they luckily run into some converts who hide and protect them. In those times the Japanese Inoue (ruler?) was ruthless in his prevention of these conversions. The Christians practiced their faith, baptism, confessions etc, in hiding.

The locals (farmers/peasants) were very happy to have the two young priests. The first third of the movie is where the young priests are getting used to being hidden and performing their duties. Rodriguez still wants to go and find Farreira, but their circumstances do not allow it. Then the story takes a turn by the arrival a peasant (K) who offers to take them to another island. They go with him. Apparently priests have a bounty on their head! K takes them along with three other devout who offer themselves up so the two priest can escape and hide on the island.

There is an elaborate scene on how these devout are sacrificed. They are asked to step on a carving of Jesus to renounce their faith. They refuse. So they are tied to a cross and left in the ocean to die. It is a powerful scene. And after they die, they are cremated.  Rodriguez and Garupe watch all this in horror. They decide to separate so they are not caught together.

Now the real story starts. Rodriguez meets up with some other devout, but is eventually caught by the Inoue and taken as a prisoner with all the other devout.

I could write the whole story but the takeaway is that Rodriguez's faith is tested over and over again. He sometimes sees himself as Jesus, the saviour of all the peasants. Then sometimes he does not think God is listening to him. He keeps feeling if there is a God he will prevent all these killings that Inoue is doing to wipe out Christians. At one time he is taken to a place and shown Garupe dying while trying to save some of the converts. Something that Rodriguez has not been able to do.  This whole time all that the Inoue is asking him to do is step on a carving of Jesus, that's it. And he will stop killing the Christians. But Rodriguez is unable to do this. The Inoue keeps killing the converts. Rodriguez feels guilty but cannot bring himself to step on Jesus's carving.

And then the final straw comes when he is taken to meet a monk, Father Farreira! By this time Farreira has renounced Christianity and has become a Buddhist monk. He advises Rodriguez to do the same. But Rodriguez is still defiant. But in the end he gives up - how? He sees what caused Father Farreira to change. Five people tied up and hung upside down in a pit. On their neck is a small slit that lets blood drip slowly out of their body. It delays death ... just torturous!!  Farreira explains to Rodriguez that love of God is to love the people and not cause them to die like this. At all times Rodriguez is asking the Inoue to punish him - Rodriguez, but the Inoue instead tortures his converts. A great dialogue is when Inoue says to Rodriguez, "Your glory comes at their sacrifice".

It's really powerful movie. It is based on a book which is based on facts. It really touched me for two reasons: first - I don't believe in conversion. I don't believe any person has the right to convert anyone's religion. It is a personal choice. And second - I believe that love is the answer to all world's problems. The most basic message should be to show love, respect and kindness to everyone. If one can do that then I think one does not need religion in their life.

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