|Andrew Garfield and Yôsuke Kubozuka|
The genius of Endō’s story and Scorsese’s adaptation is that it won’t characterize anyone as a saint, nor will it either fully condone or reject the colonialist impulses, the religious oppression, the apostasy, or the faltering faith of its characters. There is space within the story for every broken attempt to fix the world. Endō’s answer still lies in Christ, but his perception of Christ is radically different from what most people are familiar with — and even those who don’t identify with Christianity will find the film unnerving and haunting (Vox.)Having mulled over the review, I would add that the hidden Christians, poor and dirty Japanese peasants, already know something important that the young, eager Rodrigues does not: that they will never be Christ but that they need Christ. By trampling the fumi-e to save five tortured Christians, Rodrigues fully enters into that knowledge for himself. The shift to a more removed voice-over narrative emphasizes this impression, as we observe the broken, reprobate priest from a Dutch Christian point of view, while the camera shows us what the narrator cannot know.
Now I expect an interesting thing to do would be to read Shūsaku Endō’s Silence and Makoto Fujimura's Silence and Beauty, both sitting on my shelves. (Mako is credited in the movie credits as advisor, and as an artist in the nihongan mode who grew up in Japan and the states, he is well placed to consider the complexities of the novel.)
p. s. Yes, Rodrigo Prieto received the only Oscar nomination for this movie. (That's only slightly worse than I expected.) Don't let that stop you.
p. p. s. Linnet Moss on the book and the movie here.