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Blackness, jungle sounds. Then silence followed by the word: SILENCE. This is how Martin Scorceses new film begins. Later on a Catholic cleric who has renounced his faith will say that he heard his voice in god’s silence, in the stillness. SILENCE follows two Jesuit padres in 1637 who discover that their teacher, padre Ferreita (Liam Neeson) has sworn off his faith during a mission in Japan due to the brutal prosecution against Christians and has been living as a Japanese man in Nagasaki with a wife and children. Padre Rodriguez (Andrew Garfield) and padre Garupe (Adam Driver) request to travel to Japan to search for padre Ferreira. When they arrive they see the suffering of the Japanese converts who have to choose between destroying images of Christ or being tortured to death. Padre Rodriguez prayers are not heard, he struggles with his faith, and wants to save the tortured people without renouncing god.

SILENCE can be attacked for many reasons: the excessive brutality of the torture scenes, and the glorification of Christian missionary work that was and is often marked by racist hubris and imperial interests. The scene with god literally speaking in a pivotal scene could be seen as being ridiculous and heavy-handed. What you can’t accuse Scorsese of is that he doesn’t take the spiritual dilemma his protagonists are in seriously and the religious and moral questions that come along with it. Scorsese undoubtedly knows how create images and he succeeded in making a powerful tableau reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa as well as Christian crucifixion paintings.

Hannes Stein

Translation: Elinor Lewy


USA 2016, 161 min
Genre: Drama, History
Director: Martin Scorsese
Author: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese, nach einem Roman von Shûsaku Endô
DOP: Rodrigo Prieto
Montage: Thelma Schoonmaker
Music: Kathryn Kluge, Kim Allen Kluge
Distributor: Concorde Filmverleih
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson
FSK: 12
Release: 02.03.2017




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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