Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Good Story 163: Silence (2016)

Julie is excited about going to Japan. Scott breaks the news that it won't be a vacation and asks how she feels about sleeping in caves. Julie said nothing. This is not about that kind of silence, Scott said. In Episode 163, they discuss Silence (2016), directed by Martin Scorcese.

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  1. I watched Silence on Good Friday, which was quite fitting.

    There was so much I liked about it, mostly the craft of the film. All the ambiguity made it pretty much a Rorschach test of a movie. Still there is little ambiguity regarding the Japanese Catholic in the movie who provide a strong witness in contrast to the protagonist.

    As a movie it is one I glad I watched, just not sure I would ever re-watch despite strong performances. The Mission is one I can rewatch over and over, and possibly Calvary.

    It is easy to think of Martyrdom as endurance or heroism, when really it is a grace to be received.

    “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.” ("A Temple of the Holy Ghost", Flannery O' Connor)

    I have been intrigued by the history of Catholicism in Japan considering having been stationed there. The story of the Nagasaki martyrs is amazing and how there descendants kept the faith for hundreds of years with no access to priests.

    Plus I have a personal devotion to venerable Takashi Nagai after reading The Bells of Nagasaki.

    1. Takashi does that, doesn't he? I also have a personal devotion to him after reading Father Glynn's book and The Bells of Nagasaki.

  2. An excellent point that Martyrdom is a grace to be received.

    I've got "A Song for Nagasaki" on my TBR this year. You make me more eager to get to it.

  3. Silence of the Witness --

    Thank you both for your deep discussion of this movie. Like you, I left feeling uneasy and could not pinpoint or put into words my irritation. Your words helped me flesh it out.

    You used the word "lukewarm" once or twice, perhaps in describing the movie. That's how I felt about the movie. It reminded me of the verse in Revelations 3:16, "So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth." If the movie had taken a definite stand, either hot or cold, it would have been better. But its wishy-washiness about it all, blah.

    First, the title of the movie was talked about as referring to the silence of God, but it seems to me the title refers to the "silence of the witnesses", especially with the two young priests and the older apostatized priest. They failed to be witnesses to others about the suffering and persecutions they saw to the Japanese Christians. (In contrast to the Roman witnesses in the early Church.) It is true that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians but it takes witnesses to spread that seed.

    When you brought up Flannery O'Conner (and the beautiful quote from that saint), I remember reading somewhere that in most of her stories, there is a moment of grace, and a character either accepts it and has a change in heart, or the grace is rejected or ignored.

    In the movie, where was the moment of grace the two priests missed? I think it was watching the three Japanese Christians crucified at the edge of the ocean.

    As you mentioned, the one older man took three days to die, and sung loud and proud the whole time. He was grace-filled. The two priests viewed it in horror and allowed it to become a stumbling block for them, as St. Paul says, to accepting the grace of the moment. Yes, the scene was horrible and traumatic, but they missed something deeper about it that would have prepared them for later in the movie. As Scott points out that apostasy is a reordering of values, the two priests forgot Scripture, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" and "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

    On another level, the two priests reminded me of weak imitations of Martha and Mary. Garupe (Adam Driver) always wanted to act, do something, but was always at a lost for what to do. And when he does finally act, it gets him killed in trying to save those Christian bound and thrown off the boat. Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) was introspective about the situations but his reflections and prayer never lead him deeper/closer to Jesus. The stumbling block of watching the persecutions stagnated him. He did not grow interiorly.

    1. Your thoughts are in themselves an excellent meditation on the movie. I especially like the point that we must accept and act on moments of grace, like the martyr's witness singing on the cross. They also completely miss the witness of the humble peasants who may have doctrinal details wrong but understand in their hearts the bigger message of God's love and grace. They are so focused on what they are doing that they "are worried and upset about many things" but miss the one thing necessary. Which is the Mary and Martha point you make. Thank you for those points! :-)