Silence: Scorsese’s Passion Project

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Silence (2016) Poster

I had the pleasure of finally seeing Martin Scorsese’s Silence last night. This film is certainly not for everyone. It is a long, deliberately slow spiritual journey. Maybe that’s why the film is not doing well at the box office. I believe this film has a lot to offer for patient viewers and for those audiences looking for something more than simple genre pictures.

Scorsese was searching for something meaningful by making this film. It reminded me of his similar spiritual search in his film The Last Temptation of Christ.

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Willem Dafoe in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

I don’t know if he found what he was looking for, but the search itself warrants respect. This has been Scorsese’s passion project and labor of love for well over 25 years. This passion explodes on the screen in the imagery and performances. Silence is a deeply moving picture that deserves more exposure and discussion.

My only gripe with the film is the pacing. There are moments that move by at a snail’s pace, which is fine if that were the consistent pace of the film, but the pacing is uneven throughout. There were also some odd editing choices that took me out of the film at times. However, these problems are minuscule when looking at the big picture.

The acting is superb to say the least. I have been impressed with Andrew Garfield ever since his performance in The Social Network. His performance perfectly evokes a man going through a spiritual crisis. Adam Driver is also excellent in this film. He gives a haunting performance as a martyr for their cause. Liam Neeson gives an equally haunting performance as a fallen priest defeated by persecution. The rest of the supporting cast is great as well. As usual Scorsese favors performance over continuity errors and awkward edits, which I must admit works well for this film.

The cinematography is epic. Scorsese sets the perfect mood from the first frame with fog rolling over the rocky landscape. This is reminiscent of Kurosawa’s use of fog in Throne of Blood, and equally foreshadows the doom to come throughout the film. I loved the whip pans throughout. Scorsese’s style adds to the panic of the situation.

Scorsese recently said in an interview, “I must say a lot of the films that I’m aware of…and I don’t see that many new ones over the past two or three years, I stopped because the images don’t mean anything.” I somewhat disagree with this quote. The “over saturation” of images and content is both a good and bad thing. It gives viewers more content to watch, but also makes it harder for films to rise above the rest. Which I think is partially the problem that this film is having. The lack of marketing was certainly a key factor as well. Regardless, this film’s images mean something profound.

Overall, the film is a powerful journey of one man’s crisis of faith through persecution. As a person who has struggled with faith for most of his life, this film really spoke to me on both a spiritual and philosophical level. This film is not preachy or in your face about the message, in fact it leaves the audience with more questions than answers. It is more about the discussion and search of religion and faith, than the belief itself.

This is not a popcorn flick. This is not something you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to. This is an experience and one that I have not felt or seen in a long time. This is a film that needs to be shown. This is a film that needs to be talked about, because in the current film landscape films like this don’t get made anymore. I was moved by this picture, as I’m sure many others were who have seen it. This is a film that you think about long after watching. This is a film that sticks with you. Hopefully, it will gain more respect in the future like The Last Temptation of Christ did.

Written by: William David Glenn IV

1.23.17

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One thought on “Silence: Scorsese’s Passion Project

  1. Pingback: David’s Top 10 Films of 2016 | David's Film Reviews

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