Martin Scorsese’s new passion project Silence is an incredible exploration of human endurance and the lengths with which one will go to protect their faith. On the surface, this may seem a religious film, risking artistic integrity in an attempt to promote Christian living. However, the undoubtedly human story at its heart makes the faith that drives the films characters to risk everything universal as a symbol of freedom.
Years in the making, Silence follows two Jesuit priests as they journey to Japan to spread the catholic faith and find their missing mentor. This mission pushes their bodies and their sanity to the limit, unveiling both the strength and the horror humanity is capable of. While marketing has pushed Liam Neeson’s role in the film, the true star is Andrew Garfield in an incredible performance that invokes such empathy the audience is left stunned. He is the focal point with which we see man’s drive and will, following the risks and sacrifices he makes for what he believes is right. Scorsese brilliantly makes his choices and his faith ambiguous, highlighting the flaws with religious practice along with the joy it can bring. The film is not about faith but about the freedom to choose what you believe in. This film is a detailed examination of humanity and Scorsese has set out a methodical journey for his protagonist, a long and slow paced character study. We feel each struggle and each breakthrough with Garfield; Silence is in many ways an experience and it will leave you trembling. My love for what Scorsese had done is matched only by a desire to lock it away for many years. It simply takes that much out of you.
As its name suggests, Silence employs stellar use of atmosphere, the sudden troughs of quiet amidst a sea of frenzied sound recreate the moments of religious realization and wonder for our protagonist, we become sympathetic to his deluded ideas of grandeur threatening to taint his morally sound character. All this complexity is grounded with beautiful visuals that merge realism with subtle stylistic qualities that gives the landscapes of 17th century Japan an almost mythic aura.
Silence is extraordinary; the beauty and refinement of the production matched only by the beautiful yet harrowing tale at its core. Scorsese has again created a cinematic masterpiece that will bury itself within your mind for quite some time to come.