Sunday, February 12, 2017
Silence - 1 nomination
Cinematography - Rodrigo Prieto
Silence is the story of 17th century Catholic priests who come to Japan to find their mentor, who they learn has renounced his faith, taken a wife, and is living as a Japanese citizen. Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play these men who, upon their arrival in Japan, discover small groups of converted Japanese Catholics who must live in secret in order to practice their new religion, which has been outlawed by the Japanese government. Christians who are discovered are tortured and put to brutal deaths.
Silence is truly the right name for this film. There is a lot of quiet and space for the story to be told. We can see the struggles of these idealistic Priests who at once believe that they are saving souls and see the terrible brutality that befalls those who are discovered. The movie is beautiful looking and the landscapes, the sheer variety of lighting challenges which range from open spaces to fire lit to inside cages - these are major accomplishments for a cinematographer.
But unfortunately, the film is much too slow and could have been edited down by at least a half hour, probably more. I once heard a Director being interviewed and he said that every scene in a film must move the storyline forward and add a piece of information to the story that we haven't already been shown. Scenes that don't contribute to that end are times when Directors fall in love with those scenes and don't give them the objective evaluation they need. This Director described this fatal flaw as vanity. There is no question that Martin Scorcese is among the best of the best when it comes to directing, but I think he fell in love with too many scenes in this movie that just didn't accomplish their task. If you miss Silence, you won't be missing much, which is hard for me to say because all of the component parts should work - an interesting piece of history, strong cast, strong director, strong team. But the whole when put together is too flawed to bother.