In recent years Hollywood has gone out of its way to paint Christianity in a bad light whenever possible. Last year’s Best Picture winner, “Spotlight,” focused on the abuse scandal within the Catholic church and how that was an investigative journalism and criminality breakthrough by the media.
Unfortunately, it looks like this year’s obvious best film — Silence — also about the Catholic church, will almost certainly be given the cold shoulder by those same award ceremonies and industry types who loved talking about Christianity in a negative way just a year ago.
Martin Scorsese’s Silence is about the last few Christian missionaries from Portugal in feudal Japan, back in the mid-1600s. After the Japanese government started slaughtering Christians converted by missionaries (the film reports hundreds of thousands had converted before widespread persecution began), the last remaining priest was rumored to have renounced his faith, publicly.
As a result, two more — but final — priests were sent to Japan, in an effort to verify whether the story was true or not. Upon entering the country in secret, however, it becomes very clear how hate-filled Japan had become regarding anything Christian. Entire villages were wiped out, with public torture a common thing.
The entire film is beautifully shot, amazingly acted and is very well written overall. The cruelty of punishment endured by the Japanese (by their own countrymen) is sad to watch, and the film ends very differently than expected, which is also something you’ll be thinking about for quite some time after it ends. I would say go into the film expecting an epic, historically accurate view of Christianity in Japan at that particular period of time … and you’ll probably be less shocked by what you see.
Luckily, the film doesn’t go overboard with anything, and there’s nothing risque or heretical displayed on screen, but I would still recommend very young people not watching it, due to the violence.
Since the film is nearly out of theaters, barely promoted and hard to find (I had to drive two hours to a theater it was playing at), I would just wait until it comes out on video, and then watch it on the largest screen you have available to use — and then be amazed by it for three hours — as you sit in silence.