Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited Silence is one of the Raging Bull and Goodfellas director's greatest achievements
The silence is deafening in Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel. Despatched to hostile Japan to locate a priest (Neeson) rumoured to have renounced his faith, young Jesuit Sebastião (Garfield) constantly beseeches God for a word or a sign that he is on the right path, but the lack of a response leaves him plagued by doubts.
Silence is a searching, questioning and profoundly moving examination of what it means to be a man of faith, to hold on to that faith, and to impose it upon others. These complex theological issues come to a head in the duels between Sebastião and the Grand Inquisitor (the remarkable Issey Ogata), while the cruel fate of the Japanese who have accepted Christ’s teachings is presented to us in some of the most harrowing sequences Scorsese has ever filmed.
With its patient storytelling, lack of music and stark widescreen compositions, Silence is probably Scorsese’s most ascetic film, but this ambitious attempt to grapple with questions that have weighed upon his whole career also stands as one of his greatest achievements.