Silence

Religion Prof: The Blog of James F. McGrath | 1/10/2017 | James F. McGrath
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I was delighted to have an opportunity to see an advance screening of Martin Scorsese’s new movie Silence tonight, a couple of days before it opens here in Indianapolis. I went with a friend who has read Shūsaku Endō’s novel, and he said the movie is remarkably faithful to the book – except perhaps the very final shot of the movie, which I won’t say anything about here. This blog review will not remain spoiler free, and so if you are trying to avoid finding out anything in advance of seeing it, I will highly recommend the movie now, and save you having to risk spoilers as you scroll to the end to find out whether I recommend the movie or not.

The film is an exploration of faith and doubt (like the novel, I am told – I have long wanted to read the novel, and I am now persuaded to prioritize doing so as a result of watching the movie). The backdrop is the persecution of Christians in Japan in the 17th century. The movie is quite graphic in its depiction of the tortures inflicted on Christians, and it is really quite remarkable to think about the fact that a major motion picture is focused so thoroughly on this theme. As a Christian myself, as well as a professor who teaches courses about faith and doubt, it is a truly powerful exploration of a great many things, ranging from what it means to believe and be faithful, to the nature of apostasy and the power of religious symbols. But the movie seems to me to be one that can be appreciated even by people who do not share the Christian faith of various characters, and of the novel’s author and the film’s producer. The voices of doubt, pragmatism, Buddhism,...
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