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 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 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.
Reading your post got me into wondering- would you give up your religious belief in order to save others? As an atheist, that’s a hard question to answer for me, though I imagine I would say I do give up in desperate moments to save lives. Or that just came easy because I don’t believe in religion. If it were for my values, or credos, it might be different. What about you?
I replied to this and deleted the reply and decided to reply again LOL I think this is a really hard question to answer and to be honest, I think a decision like this you won’t actually know until you’re actually in that situation. And hopefully I won’t ever have to make that choice!
Religion is a touchy subject for much of the world, and I have friends who have many different beliefs I tend to not go into too much discussion. My beliefs also are a bit “controversial” if you will as I will say I don’ have a set religion and identify with both christian and wiccan beliefs, though I was born into a jewish household. My grandparents made sure I studied many different religions, though they raised me as non-denominational christian.
My grandmother always told me that she believes what she believes, and hopes that we do as well, but that we’d better ALWAYS respect other’s beliefs no matter if they are different. She was very strict about that last bit, because she didn’t tolerate any form of prejudice.
I think sharing your religious beliefs (or lack thereof) is quite acceptable as long as you don’t force others to believe the same. I have no issues talking of various religions with others, I just know that people won’t always believe what I do, and I’m good with that. It shows individuality, which is a beautiful thing. THAT’S why I’ve never understood the reasons behind religious wars. Just stop fighting and agree to disagree. People are allowed to believe what they choose!
As per the movie, I have never seen it, but I have heard of the book! It’s actually on my “to-read” list for this year, lol. So it’s good to know it was good!
Religion/faith is a very sticky topic especially in public forums, even the history and philosophical aspect of it. I can see why many people who try to keep it to themselves.
But I think dying for one’s religion is a personal choice. It’s not “required” for followers of Christianity, but there is indeed martyrdom(“dying in the name of Christ”) attached to it.
I used to have a habit of going to church when I was little, but I stopped around high school. If I remember correctly, there were a lot of stories about how you should always stick to your beliefs, or more specifically, in your belief in God. So in the black and white world, I suppose the answer should be that you should always stick to your beliefs, even if that keeps you from saving others. Although the stories I remember talked more about sticking to your beliefs, even if that keeps you from saving yourself (as in, saving your physical life). idk though. I think we always hope that we’ll be able to make the better decision, but I don’t think we’ll ever know until we are actually in those situations. -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s
I don’t think I would die for my beliefs. In my opinion you always need to draw a line and think about what’s more important to you. In general I think religion is a risky topic to talk about because there are so many different views on it and I feel like no matter what you say, you always say the wrong thing..
As for my friend, thank you for the advice! I’m already trying to distance myself and I also told her that I won’t be listening to any audios anymore because I don’t want to take the time out of my day to do that. I tried to be as nice as possible and you know what happened? She replied to my message with a 6mins voice message. So yeah. RIP ME!!
Kind of funny how I actually looked this movie up and now I saw you wrote about it. I love Martin Scorsese’s films, but I am not sure if I will watch this one, despite my love Japanese history and culture. I am far from being religious myself, so I am not sure if I’d be comfortable with the film. It is interesting that the film stayed with you, though, despite it being on the long side and being sort of boring. I’m all for sticking to one’s belief as long as it’s not hurting anyone, but it is hard changing your beliefs. Do I want to die for my beliefs? I am not sure if I’m that brave . . . hrm. Something to think about!
It sounds like a really incredible story! When a movie is so long, it can be difficult if the built up to certain scenes/plot can take time. It might be slow in some parts, but still a very good movie as a whole. A movie can be great when it stays with you and makes you question many things about your place in the world. Sometimes that can be confronting and challenging, but I think we are able to really take something from it.
I love the respect that you have for others when it comes to beliefs. It’s great to see that you’re sharing your perspective in things so keep going at it, Rezina :).
There are some movies where I was pretty bored but still interested in seeing how the plot unfolds. It’s amazing to hear/read about priests and monks doing everything they can to practice their faith. I would feel really sad watching that scene.
I would have a hard time deciding if I would want to give up my beliefs to save others. God is silent, so it would be a tough choice on deciding what he would want me to do. This sounds like a pretty bad mixture of betrayal and loyalty.
The Quiet Child is a personal blog managed by Rezina. Currently in my 20s, I am a graduate student studying Information and Library Science.
Some labels that fit me: Korean-American, an avid reader, an enthusiastic writer, future librarian, and lover of strawberries and bananas.