Silence: Bleak, Depressing & Too Long but Still a Relentless Examination of Spirituality [Blu-ray Review]

by | Mar 28, 2017

From Paramount Pictures and director Martin Scorsese comes the period drama Silence. Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson, the film is available to own as of today March 28, 2017 on Blu-ray and DVD.

SILENCE Blu-ray box art

Two 17th-century Portuguese missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), embark on a perilous journey to Japan to find their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). While there, the two men minister to the Christian villagers who worship in secret. If caught by feudal lords or ruling samurai, they must renounce their faith or face a prolonged and agonizing death.


Well that was bleak. I love Martin Scorsese’s work – damn near all of it, including the weird stuff (which Silence most definitely falls into that category), but keeping the runtime at nearly three hours long doesn’t do a movie of this type any favours. I’d have to imagine that’s why it was omitted from the Academy Awards — the damn thing was just too damn… depressing and LOOOOONG. Taking place in feudal Japan, we follow a missionary (played brilliantly by Andrew Garfield — I could see this man being Scorsese’s new apprentice – taking over from DiCaprio), as he tries to track down his former teacher in a very dangerous country that sentences Christians to death.


Much of the film follows Garfield as he struggles with teaching the word of God and praying with Japanese farmers while avoiding the military who will torture and murder anyone they deem to be Christian as they feel it is a danger to their country. The torture sequences…. Yeesh. People are crucified, drowned, lit on fire while still alive but there’s one method that haunts me and probably the one aspect of Silence (aside from it’s poignant messages about spirituality) that I’ll take away from this movie… It’s the method where they hang someone upside down while tied up, and they make a small incision on their neck before they are lowered into a small dark hole (upside down mind you) and left there as their blood from the incision constantly drips down their neck and head, eventually becoming the only sensation they can feel. It’s HORRIBLE!!! My god that’s brutal shit. The Japanese knew their torture game and they knew it better than anyone else. Terrifying.

Silence prosecution

The performances, the cinematography — all perfect but the pacing of the film itself and the thin script is what takes Silence out of the running when compared to the rest of 2016’s Oscar bait. There’s an ongoing supporting character too who keeps getting out of a death sentence because he’s constantly backstabbing his fellow Christians… Every time I saw him run away after stepping on the Jesus stone-plate on the ground I pictured this humorous old-timey getaway music as he high-tails it out of the village to live another day. That rascal. Why I oughtta.

I’m not sure if it was meant to be taken this way or not, but by the end of Silence I learned that missionaries enforcing their beliefs into a country isn’t always the answer, but just being there for those who seek you out is maybe the better response.. It was a very thought-provoking film and Liam Neeson’s dialog when he finally meets Garfield is one of the better talky scenes I’ve seen from any of the dramas, including those actually nominated at the Academy Awards this year. But — it’s just too damn bleak, too damn boring and too damn repetitive when it comes to the torture sequences. Once I’ve seen a dude drown – I don’t need to see it again – it loses some of the impact along the way when shown more than once. Silence might be Scorsese’s passion project, but it just isn’t something I ever need to revisit. Once was enough.


Special Features

There is one feature included on the Silence Blu-ray that is incredibly interesting and in-depth as it covers everything from Scorsese’s love for this passion project that began in the 80’s all the way to how they filmed this thing. There are cast and crew interviews in the documentary and input from religious scholars and people that were consultants on the film in order to make sure it stayed as genuine as possible. I highly recommend you watch this feature – it was longer than I assumed it would be and very insightful into the behind-the-scenes world of Silence, answering many questions you might have had lingering after watching the film.

Rating: [star rating=”2.5″]