Saved by the latter’s complex roles, SILENCE, lack about strength exalt a christian heroism under the guise of self-acceptance.
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If we reduced the work of Martin Scorsese in a classic replay of christ – wielding it is true, with its energy customary, a range of figures and symbols that gives him ” his ” catholic religion, his film would hardly allegories gibsoniennes (Thou shalt not kill, the passion of The Christ). The strength of the cinema of Scorsese is, above all, in the idiosyncrasy of a style that assumes a lovers of the most iconoclastic (Kurosawa, Powell, Fuller, series B, new-wave French, etc). A mixture of styles, tones and themes which gives the diversity, the uniqueness and the originality of a work, definitely not like the others.
Turning the adaptation of the work of Shusaku Endo (already filmed by a film-maker and house Masahiro Shinoda in 1971), Scorsese invites you to the land of the Rising Sun (instead of Taiwan) with the cultural heritage, art and of course film it involves. Obviously, the encounter seemed to be almost perfect as the cinema of Scorsese loves the violence-ritual, almost autopunitive, circumscribed in a space coded (hierarchy and presentation) that gives the distribution of classes in the feudal era (it was mostly peasants who were converted to christianity by the way). Swung his archetypal heroic – obsessed more or less controlled – in such decorum was logically required to generate its quota of scenes of alienation and gratuitous violence and sadistic. Fortunately, SILENCE is not the outlet, the promise of sadomasochism fears. But it may be worse.
Recall that for Scorsese, this is the physical hardship and mental (spiritual, rather) which are subject to these heroes that contributed to the reflective aspect of these films. And to understand both points of view – that of the christian hero (Andrew Garfield as Father Rodrigues) and the buddhist japanese – you have to remember that the legal system of japan is a “moral shame” while that of the christian West turns out to be a ” moral sin “, to use the opposition made by Ruth Benedict (The chrysanthemum and the sword). And it is surely here that Scorsese misses the mark, because this opposition comes through other characters, almost anecdotal. His hero, interpreted by a Garfield too bright, would be almost saved. Indeed, it is with the character of the guide Kichijiro (Yôsuke Kubozuka) and that of the interpreter (the excellent Asano Tadanobu), the filmmaker works deeply into the question of religion and history. The first is a japanese christian who does that to recant to save his “skin” and better to ask for forgiveness in the first Father that he sees. It is at once a figure, pathetic and unsympathetic. It exposes the limits of a ” moral sin “. The second is a japanese buddhist who tells the Father Rodrigues that the first missionaries (Francis Xavier in 1549) have never sought to understand the culture and the japanese language, whether they arrived as conquerors, ready to evangelize all that “moved” so that the japanese culture has existed since a very long time, having deep roots and their own religions (buddhism, shintoism, and confucianism).
“Too respectful, Scorsese has his film of a staged academic” Click To Tweet
Fear to see the expansion of the west make progress on their land (the fear of colonialism military, the undermining of their unit of society, the feeling of superiority of the westerners), Japan decided to implement a isolationist policy, the famous “sakoku ” (” closed country “), which begat three hundred years of peace : the Edo era (1600-1868). Of course, the first response was the expulsion of the missionaries (1587), and then, the radicalization helping, running (1617) was not long. In this respect, the attitude of the Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who abjura in 1633, converting at the same time to buddhism (religion flagship of the time), took a woman and a japanese name, and collaborated in writing pamphlets against his own religion, was far from an isolated case. Yet, after twenty years of living in Japan, Father Ferreira holds a speech sincere about the buddhist religion, on the primacy of nature, a Truth which is multiple… We see then something of the order of a freedom of spirit, an acceptance of the self and the other. But Scorsese can’t help the show as a prisoner ; a behavior that would be sacrificial, to the image of the last shot of the film. One almost has the impression of a “brain-washing” (the scar behind the ear), reducing Japan to a swamp, where nothing good grows. There would be, therefore, that for the critique of the feudal system, but nothing about the religion.
When we see the scenes of torture and humiliation suffered by the christians (the pit, the sea rises, the “fumi-e” : put his foot on an emblem of christ), they are obviously all horrible and cruel. Japanese officials are portrayed as sadistic. But is that the missionaries are shown as cowards ? Why Father Rodrigues did he need to hear the voice (in voice-overs !) of God tell him to put his foot on his face to save these poor people ? Would it have done without it ? As when he writes of the pamphlets in his lap on the dangers of catholicism, it was the ultimate sacrifice for humanity as a christian, at least what remains of it. Recognizing this, the catholic religion out of it grown up. In the film dating from 1971, Shinoda did not “speak” to God at the scene of the “fumi-e” (and the film is allowed to be doubly liberating and controversy concluding with the vision of Father Rodriguez hooking up with a woman).
Yet SILENCE, had shown the beginnings of a critique of a true “silence” of God, unable to move or protect these poor people. Father Rodrigues then started to doubt his God, just good to share the suffering of men. The idea that peasants, christians worshipped only the figure of Father Rodrigues, not the laws of the Lord, opened up a whole bunch of questions. But Scorsese does the deepens only very partially, the dementia of his hero being just that mentioned through the idea of a reflection in a stream. Then he had us accustomed to film, the excess proper to man, his animal condition, to his instincts, the most perverse, Scorsese delivers here a beautiful soul, a beautiful person (as said by the interpreter !). The real excess was on the side of the guide, Kichijiro, the Inquisitor Inoue (incredible Issei Ogata), the Father Garupe (awesome Adam Driver) who eventually plunge, literally, left to die, to keep the mask of religion.
Too respectful, almost missing teeth, Scorsese has his film of a staged academic who would eventually almost his age. Exit the frantic editing, the voice-off accomplice, the energy is dizzying camera movements, SILENCE in the sober and solemn. A hieratic religious circumstances, can be. The influence of a japanese aesthetic, both scenographic that time, based more on the brilliance (that Scorsese has more-or-that momentarily) and the “vertical” (social hierarchy and behavioral japanese), probably. The undeniable plastic beauty – the photo of Rodrigo Pieto and the costumes of Dante Ferretti – does not diminish the consensus that offers the film. This is the moment when he could, or even had any to send, “let loose the horses” so to speak, that Scorsese is the more timid, more cautious.
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• Achievement : Martin Scorsese
• Screenplay : Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese based on the work of Shusaku Endo
• Main actors : Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson
• Release Date : 8 February 2017
• Duration : 2h41min• Critical FOR