Silence (2016)

Theatrical Release: January 13, 2017
DVD Release: March 28, 2017
Silence (2016)


Martin Scorsese’s SILENCE tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) — at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.

Dove Review

“Silence” is based on a 1966 novel of historical fiction by Japanese author Shūsaku Endō. This visually stunning film takes place in the mid-1600s. The story is about two priests, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver), and about their search for a fellow priest, Ferreira (Liam Neeson). The two priests depart from Portugal for Japan, and soon are confronted with what one Buddhist leader refers to as a “swamp”, that the seeds of the gospel fall into. Ferreira is believed to have fallen into apostasy, and this happens when they are forced to step on an image of Jesus Christ after being tormented by the Japanese. Sometimes fellow believers are set on fire in front of them or drowned in order to gain their cooperation in this apostasy. It is Father Sebastião Rodrigues, who is the main character we see and all the events of the movie are seen through his eyes. Although he starts out with Father Garrpe, they are eventually separated and what happens in front of, and to, Rodrigues is unthinkable. He is captured, tortured, or forced to watch others tortured as he is driven toward apostasy. Andrew Garfield gives an impressive performance as Rodrigues.

He wonders in his prayers and thoughts about the “silence” of God, which is, of course, the title of the movie. Yet he states he has heard God’s voice in the silence. He faces despair when the Japanese authorities are most cruel to others and he wonders if he has disappointed God? He also finds Ferreira and is shocked with what he sees. He eventually is forced to make a decision–to step on the image of Christ, and admit apostasy, or to remain firm in his resolve. He seems to hear the voice of Christ, telling him that he identifies with his pain. If he steps on the image, would this be a way of reminding himself that Christ was “stepped on” and crucified? Would he truly be abandoning his faith? Or would he be saving others from pain? The movie leaves these various issues and questions to the audience to decide. Without giving the ending away the film does remember the pastors and Christians of Japan who faced great suffering.

Although the priests are seen absolving sins, they do inevitably point people to Christ. The movie is going to be viewed as somewhat controversial as a few times the priests encourage people to step on the image of Christ so as to be freed from their tortures. Ultimately, the images of people being set on fire and drowned for their faith are images which will be burned in the minds of viewers. The great sacrifice these martyrs make obviously speak loudly as to their faith. Due to the strong violence, we are awarding the film our Faith Based Seal, signifying objectionable material along with a faith-based theme.

Content Description

Sex: None
Language: "Damned" in the religious sense-1; pi*sed-1
Violence: A lot of violence throughout including people having water from hot springs poured on them and we see the burns as their skin turns red; people are struck with sticks, kicked, set on fire for their faith (usually just the beginning of the fires) but sometimes going a bit longer; a man is decapitated and we see his head hit the ground in addition to blood as his corpse is dragged and dropped into a hole in the ground (this scene of the body being dragged is later repeated); people drowned, thrown overboard a boat or tied to ropes with a rising tide; people being hung upside down and cut; some scenes of blood, usually not gratuitous; a few fights.
Drugs: Drinking in a few scenes including a bar scene with several people drinking.
Nudity: Shirtless men; men's legs seen; men seen in loincloths and their rear cheeks are seen in a few various scenes of the film; men's chest seen with open shirts.
Other: Some depart from their Christian faith; tension between characters; a man is heard beginning to vomit; Buddhists seen practicing their beliefs; people confess to priests but also pray to Jesus and make a bold stand for him; a few heated arguments between the Christians; one man steps on the image of Christ several times and keeps asking the priest to forgive him.


Company: Paramount
Director: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 159 min.
Industry Rating: R
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds
Reviewer: Edwin L Carpenter