Silence- the movie by Martin Scorsese

Silence- the movie -

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Sometimes silence is the deadliest sound.
Two Jesuit priests, Sebastião Rodrigues and Francis Garrpe, travel to seventeenth century Japan which has, under the Tokugawa shogunate, banned Catholicism and almost all foreign contact. There they witness the persecution of Japanese Christians at the hands of their own government which wishes to purge Japan of all western influence. Eventually, the priests separate and Rodrigues travels the countryside, wondering why God remains silent while His children suffer.

Scorsese described the process of making Silence as a “pilgrimage,” a working-out of his Catholicism through the medium he knows best: cinema.


Silence is not just about mission. The film is itself missional.

Based on the acclaimed 1966 novel by Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo, Silence is a book about 17th century Jesuit missionaries trying to make inroads for the gospel in the inhospitable “swampland” of Japan, facing intense persecution by a Japanese shogunate determined to wipe out Christianity’s influence in their realm.

Sent from Portugal to seek the whereabouts of a fellow Jesuit priest (Liam Neeson) who had gone missing in Japan amidst intensifying persecution, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) go to Japan to minister to the persecuted Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”) community and see if they can find the missing priest. Their faith is tested as the Grand Inquisitor Inoue (Issey Ogata) forces them to denounce their faith or watch Christians be tortured and killed.


A Meditation on Missiology

I am optimistic about the hope Pope Francis expressed. Silence presents a textured, realistic Christian faith, and has the potential to build the faith of the devout and the skeptical alike, bearing fruit in the church’s witness and mission in the world.

Dedicated to “Japanese Christians and their pastors,” Silence has a lot to say to the church about cross-cultural missions and contextualization. Father Rodrigues (Garfield) and Inoue (Ogata) frankly discuss the nature of Christianity and why it is unwelcome in Japan: “You missionaries do not seem to know Japan,” says Inoue, who insists the “tree” of Christianity won’t take root in the soil of Japan. It may be fruitful in Portugal and Europe, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t work in Japan. Rodrigues responds with a defense of the universality of truth: “If a doctrine wasn’t as true in Japan as it is in Portugal, we could not call it true.”


Restricted 16.

NOTE: Violence & cruelty


159 minutes

Author: Martin Scorsese



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