Movie Reflection: Silence

I watched this movie with my fellow Sunday School teachers and our priest and the plot really stayed with me, so I decided to share my thoughts! I normally don’t write posts about my religious beliefs because to be honest, writing about it makes me uncomfortable. I respect everyone’s beliefs and I don’t want to make it seem as if I’m judging someone based on my own beliefs or that I’m imposing my beliefs on another person. So this post is merely a reflection on a movie that really stayed with me even after it was over. This post contains minor spoilers!

Silence is originally a book written by Shusaku Endo.[1. I own the book but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet] Here’s the summary:

Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece.

The movie is incredibly long.[2. I felt like it could have been shorter] It was nearly 3 hours and the whole time I was watching it, I felt like I was falling asleep. But every time I tried to fall asleep, it almost felt like I was forcing myself to fall asleep and for some reason I felt really compelled to keep watching it. And then, when I left the movie theater I kept thinking about it.

Is there a word for this kind of feeling? Because that’s the way I felt watching it. Like the movie was boring… but not a bad boring?

One thing that really got to me was the lengths the priests went through for their beliefs. Another thing that really got to me was the subject of silence. I really related to the overall question of the film, where you feel as if God is silent all the time. I also thought really deeply about the martyrs because the novel and the film are based on real events that happened in 17th century Japan.

A scene that got to me was when a Japanese Christian was being hanged on a cross in the middle of the ocean. He’s basically being starved to death and being exposed to the water for a period of over 4 days (when he finally passes away). And as he’s nearing death, he sings this really beautiful hymn to God. This scene was particularly poignant and I almost cried watching him die. I don’t know… just something about that scene was really beautiful and sad. Like, you’re minutes away from dying and you devote the last bit of your energy creating something beautiful and heartfelt.

This reflection is kind of choppy but I guess I was really astounded at how the mental torture often seemed greater than the physical torture. The movie also poses a question of – would you give up your beliefs in order to save others? I think this is a really hard question to think about (as someone who is religious). It’s sort of like giving up your identity and both require a certain kind of bravery.

As always, thanks for reading! And since today is Valentines Day – happy Valentines Day! Not that I’ll be celebrating Valentines but still.