Silence is godly

silence-2016-movieAfter Bergman, it is Scorsese’s turn to meditate on God’s silence, in his tale of a Jesuit priest enduring persecution in seventeenth century Japan.  As Father Rodrigues hides in the undergrowth and watches members of his flock suffer the ultimate penalty for not spitting on the image of Christ, and as he is forced by the dogged presence of his own Judas figure to confront the pride of his placing his suffering on a par with that of Jesus in Gethsemane, he must ultimately face the possibility that it is all for nothing, and God is not there to take pity, much less to intervene. How you interpret the film’s final sally, that it is impertinent to allude to God’s silence, when every word and deed in his, the priest’s, life speak of him, will depend on your own position faith-wise: either it is a beautifully expressed, ontological truth, or a vain piece of sophistry, an apology for the arrogance of evangelism. One suspects that, for Scorsese, it is the former; while remaining pointedly ambiguous in his devotion to the faith through his films, the director may be seeking some absolution of his own after the excesses of the DiCaprio films.