During the 1600s, Japanese authorities cracked down on people who confessed Christ as their lord. It became illegal for Europeans to share their faith, and many people were killed because they did not retract their trust in Jesus, despite heavy persecution.
“silence” is the fictional story of two jesuit priests from portugal, garrpe and rodrigues (adam driver and andrew garfield), who dare to venture to japan because one of their mentors, a priest / Missionary named Ferreira (Liam Neeson) stopped writing home years ago and has reportedly recanted his faith to live like one of the Japanese. the younger priests set out to find and rescue him, in one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a believer.
as millions of people flocked to see jesus die a violent death in “the passion of the christ” and were inspired by jesus’ courage and sacrifice for humanity, martin scorsese’s “silence” frames the suffering for your faith in a different light. What if your choice to proclaim Christ and lead others to eternal salvation provokes the wrath of the government on new believers and their families? could you justify letting other people suffer because you don’t want to risk your own damnation by dishonoring god?
a verse of the new testament says: “if you deny me (jesus) before men, I will deny you before the father”. In this film, persecuted Japanese priests and their followers are constantly asked to choose between loyalty to the government or dishonoring God, which is symbolized by placing their foot on an image depicting Jesus or spitting on a cross. when the Japanese refuse to give in, they are tortured in terrible ways, until death finally comes.
I will never forget the images of people slowly bleeding to death while hanging upside down or drowning over the course of several days, while tied naked to crosses in the midst of crashing ocean waves. personally, i work for an organization that sends christians to the most dangerous countries in the world, so that people can hear about jesus for the first time and believe in him. The risks for new believers can be very high, and I have learned of many people who have been killed because they did not abandon Jesus. seeing “silence”, I was stunned by the fear Christians felt and also by the hope in their eyes when receiving communion or baptism.
The film does not try to send a simplistic message, such as “the missionaries are ultimately responsible for the persecution, so people would be better off staying home.” but the message is not simple either: “jesus is worth any suffering, his power overcomes everything”. The “silence”, referred to in the film’s title, probably represents the experience of many people when they cry out to God for help and cannot hear his answer. Many Christians will say that they never heard God speak audibly to them, and others may say that he stopped speaking when the Bible was finished. others might walk away from watching a movie like “hush” and conclude that god doesn’t exist because, if he did exist and was as good as the churches say he is, then he would do something to stop human suffering.
The characters in the film ask: “What does God want from me? Theological devotion to the church or love for my fellow men?” as someone who is part of the evangelical stream of 21st century believers, i struggled while watching this movie because the young priests were running the underground church in japan using latin, which i doubt their listeners would understand, and their followers were also greedily receiving little tokens of their faith. , like rosary beads, as if they had divine power. i’m sure some of the practices in my own church would also make believers 400 years ago very uncomfortable so i won’t point fingers at a However, when watching this movie, you may also have some concerns about the doctrine that the priests are trying to convey to the Japanese.
American viewers are also used to seeing a hero struggle, suffer, persevere, and ultimately succeed in his quest as a different person. However, Rodriguez’s journey, in particular, seems quite different, because he enters Japan confident in his faith and ready to let God use his life, but everything he thinks he knows about God and himself is slowly being stripped away. until he understands what Jesus felt when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” you may not agree with the choices this character makes or the type of death he chooses to endure, but you may be able to empathize.
This is not a movie designed to entertain someone who wants to see movie stars like Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield (of “The Amazing Spider-Man” fame) win a victory for Faith in Japan. It’s sad, intense and brutal. people who aren’t strong in their faith yet probably won’t get much out of watching the movie either. This movie is like a wrestling match, in which someone who believes himself to be an authority in God faces his own sin, doubts, failures, as well as the weaknesses of others, coming out to the other side to find… Well, I won’t screw everything up.
This is one of the most challenging faith movies I’ve ever seen, and I’m still wrestling with the questions it raised. if you go, be prepared to return to the lord and his word with the questions that the film asks you. Hopefully, the spirit within you will not seem silent, but you will receive comfort and conviction of sin. this is a unique movie that requires a lot of thought, and not everyone will be ready for it. their violence is terrible.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: None / Nudity: Moderate: Loincloths, Shirtless Men, Prohibited Sex
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