Silence – The Film


Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016) tells the story of Jesuit Fathers, Sebastian Rodriguez (Andrew Garfield) and Francesco Garrpe (Ciaran Hinds) as they journey to Japan to find their mentor Fr. Ferrera.

The film is set  during the persecution of Christians happening at this time in the history of Japan.  If captured, the priests will be tortured to make a choice between one of two options, giving up their faith, or death.

Spoilers ahead.  For me it is always wonderful to see the role of perspective  in film.  We see Fr.Rodriguez, our main character, heroically trading away all comfort in order to serve in Japan.  Indeed we see the story from his eyes.  But we as the audience have a different perspective.  We can see things that even Fr. Rodriguez misses.

I think pride is very much a blindspot of Fr. Rodriguez. The problem of pride is very much a problem of my own life as well.  It is something I struggle with.  Yet, in the same vein, when I am not aware of this character flaw, it is then that it rears its ugly head in the background to hurt not simply myself, but also those I care about.

We see something similar with Fr. Rodriguez.  It is fine for him to go off to other countries to be martyred, but then whose glory is he seeking?  Perhaps, we like our protagonist, can be doing a great service to the Church.  Without “us” the work could not be done.  Do we remember that we are simply doing what we ought to do? Finally, Fr. Rodriguez asks for a genuine challenge and says “bring me the inquisitor!” What does it mean to not be aware of one’s enemy?  To pridefully enter into their garden without really understanding what is at stake.

In the end, Fr. Rodriguezr is undone through a little “chink” in his armour.  He cannot bear the suffering of others.  This character flaw is eventually used by the Inquisitor against our protagonist.  The Inquisitor makes individuals suffer as a direct result of the Fr. Rodriguez’s choice to remain a priest.

It is a masterfully told story.  One that involves the tragedy that lurks around the corner for each one of us, when we are not aware of our own blindspots and areas of weakness.

Raj Vijayakumar is working at a retreat centre in Montreal.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 09:16h, 03 August Reply

    Thank you Raj!

  • Fr. Raymond Lafontaine
    Posted at 14:10h, 03 August Reply

    Great film, thanks for reminding us, Raj! Slight correction – the second priest is Adam Driver; I think Ciaran Hinds was the Provincial who sent them to Japan!

  • Anne Marie
    Posted at 11:15h, 10 August Reply

    Dear Raj, Am I to understand from your article that not being able to bear the suffering of others is “A CHARACTER FLAW”??? Please elucidate…

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