Author Topic: Silence  (Read 3183 times)

oldkid

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Re: Silence
« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2017, 02:56:19 PM »
DarkeningHumour's response:

On the topic of Silence:

You're both dismissing the possibility that Garfield is genuinely hearing a voice but that that voice is generated but hallucinations instead of being an instance of Yahweh getting chatty.

The movie is based on a novel that was based on a real story. My understanding, from what I remember reading earlier this year, is that the characters in the movie were real and the novel was written from an account given by an European merchant in one of his journals ; the sort of man you see in the end of the movie trading with the Japanese. The film is supposed to be quite true to what was going on in Japan at the time, if not the actual lives of these particular people.

I don't like the term cultural manipulation. It doesn't mean much to me. Manipulation is about playing with the strings about a doll to make it go one way or another. Evangelism and missionary work are different practices ; they're about sewing new strings onto the dolls, strings with the colour and fabric you like and that always pull in one specific direction.

The sowing can be peaceful or violent but ultimately it is always a form of conquest. Religion claims territory as would a nation. Peoples are asked to yield, not their lands but their very souls, which results in a new web of allegiance and a renewed distribution of resources. Religion is a meme, and the specificity of monotheism is that it is a genocidal meme that does not allow for competition. Its rival memes must be eradicated in the name of its dictates.

As for propaganda, that is the distribution of memes that aggrandise a person or a thing, which is what about half of any holy book amounts to.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

oldkid

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Re: Silence
« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2017, 03:48:57 PM »
Ah, now it's on a spoiler thread, so I can take my shoes off and wiggle my toes.

My question about Garfield implied that he was hallucinating.  His brain would want him to survive, so would place the "voice of God" in him to give him a way out of observing the suffering.

Honestly, he seems like such a wimp.  Trust me, I don't care to watch suffering.  I've seen too much of it.  But at the same time, this false dichotomy of "you are making them suffer" is simply ridiculous.  It is the authorities making them suffer.  They have already proven that they would torture people, no matter what the result, so they will lie, have lied and in all probability are lying again.  This internal crisis is because he believes them this time, even though he has no reason to.

I agree with DH about evangelism being the distribution of memes.  If that is all it is, then it is no more dangerous than any other meme distribution.  Some will believe a meme, no matter how silly, and some will disbelieve a meme, no matter how convincing. 

I also didn't find the argument that Japanese soil was a swamp for Christianity to be convincing.  I did find the connection of Christianity to western imperialism to be very, very dangerous.  The fact is, when Christianity is connected to power, it is almost always bad.  A twisting of the original idea.  So when the only priests of a Japanese church are foreigners, then there's a serious problem, and it certainly looks like a cultural invasion.  Frankly, it IS a cultural invasion, no matter how it seems to the priests.

This is the struggle, I have with the film.  It is about personal belief when the real story is the interactions of social constructs. 

Still, I can't deny the amazing filmmaking.  I don't understand people who think this film is boring.  Perhaps because I am invested in the worldviews at stake, but certainly the stark contrast of the brutality and beauty is jaw-dropping. 
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Silence
« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2017, 07:52:46 AM »
How was there not already a thread for this movie? I am sure I talked a bunch about it with Junior.

I did not say evangelism was just the spreading of memes. It is the spreading of a set of totalitarian memes that are meant to replace the existing set. Christianity does not allow for coexistence with other faiths as did the old mysticisms. It is not a philosophy like Spinozism that people can store in their internal knowledge library ; it is an all or nothing proposition. The role of the missionary is to destroy the existing beliefs and replace them with a new bunch, which he is imperialistically convinced to be superior.

I don't understand your point about Garfield before the Japanese. The question of suffering in a world with a supposedly benevolent demiurge is a pertinent one - perhaps the most pertinent of all - regardless of whether it is mentioned in the scriptures that all the pain and woe was always very  much on the menu.

The question of Japan's ability to receive Western memes is the most interesting (the only interesting) idea in the movie. Then English patient's speech about the inability of the priests to translate European concepts into Japanese and to explain the real essence of the scriptures opens a door unto a fascinating perspective that the movie unfortunately barely explores.
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1SO

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Re: Silence
« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2017, 09:18:51 AM »
Perhaps a Mod could merge this with the other Spoiler thread.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Silence
« Reply #34 on: August 03, 2017, 09:19:26 AM »
My question about Garfield implied that he was hallucinating.  His brain would want him to survive, so would place the "voice of God" in him to give him a way out of observing the suffering.
Perhaps. But I'd also like to think that the people who scorned and crucified Christ were the very people he came to save. I think that Garfield stepping on the image of God is reminiscent of that human spite against God and Christ's acceptance and love through that spite.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Silence
« Reply #35 on: August 03, 2017, 10:13:13 AM »
He saved someone's life by doing that but you choose to interpret it as a spiteful gesture?
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oldkid

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Re: Silence
« Reply #36 on: August 03, 2017, 12:20:59 PM »
Perhaps a Mod could merge this with the other Spoiler thread.

I apologize.  I didn't look far enough.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

oldkid

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Re: Silence
« Reply #37 on: August 03, 2017, 01:14:59 PM »
Lots of good discussion in this thread.  OAD, as usual, gets to the point and sharply indicates the main themes of the film.  Very helpful.

So, DH, let's talk a bit more, although I hate to force you in a conversation about a film you didn't care for that much.

I see what you are saying about totalitarian memes-- memes that demand the dismantling of other memes.  This is very much like colonialism.  And that would make it dangerous.  But not all evangelism is like this.  And in fact, I would say that evangelism that leads to martyrdom is not like this.  It is a meme passed from the powerless to the powerful, from the oppressed to the oppressor.  The system that refuses to empower their meme with violence (and I am certainly not saying that this represents Catholicism) isn't dangerous, but in danger.

I strongly disagree with you about Scorsese's choice to make the voice ambiguous.  I think it is brilliant and makes the film.  Garfield's growth is about his knowledge of God.  He thinks that God is all about loyalty, and so silence is the only answer he can receive.  After all, what else is there to say?  Be faithful and die is God's only message and there is nothing else to be said.  At that moment, Garfield has a theological revelation.  God is about faithfulness to one's fellow humans more than fealty to symbols of a Godhead.  Love is greater than sacrifice.  For Jesus, the sacrifice was love.   What I was thinking in that moment, listening to the suffering of the martyrs, is they died for Garfield's sin.  Because he was embracing faith over love.  So the film is fundamentally a theological film, and the action takes place in the man's mind. Garfield also sacrificed his life, his Christian life, for the sake of others.  His sacrifice was living.

Why does it matter that he lived and died as a Japanese, but held the handmade crucifix in his hands at burial?  Because his Japanese life WAS his life in God.  His surrender of his Christianity was his manner of living God's love for the sake of those who would otherwise die.  Those who died, died to change him.  The fact that he lived as a Japanese, was to save others.  Because love never looks the same in each generation.

Like Last Temptation, the protagonist makes a misstep in the name of life and faith.  In Temptation, it was to live an everyday Jewish life without the necessary sacrifice of one's life.  In Silence, it is refusing to die in order to live an everyday Japanese life.  But both are the paths God demands.

Because of this, it is essential that God's voice be potentially a hallucination and potentially real.  Because it is not just about God, but about our duty to humanity, the meaning of our lives.  Just like in Tree of Life, the nature of the universe is grace, even so when in these movie they talk about the will or command of God, they talk about the foundation of (at least) human life.  It is care for one's fellow human.  This isn't just the imaginations of a human being, but the course of our lives.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

smirnoff

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Re: Silence
« Reply #38 on: August 06, 2017, 10:25:09 PM »
I have nothing insightful to add. I turned off the film after an hour or thereabouts. They had split up and Garfield was skulking around still. I just couldn't relate to the characters and the decisions they made which to me seemed arbitrary. "It's our duty to go save Liam Neeson"... ten minutes later "too bad for those guys, let's hide in the bushes". Why was finding Liam Neeson of all people so important? It felt really unimportant to me. Or within their value system it didn't seem like Liam Neeson ought to be considered a higher priority than anyone else. The whole journey just seemed reckless and unnecessary, not to mention being an absurd long-shot. I didn't see how they were duty bound, honour bound, faith bound, or any other kind of bound, unlike say Return to Paradise which had all kinds of complicated motivators to return or not, and the struggle was real over what to do with the man they left behind. Garfield and the other guy's faith is basically just annoying because it trumped all the relatable human emotions... and for the parts I watched it hardly seemed like they were straining to keep their faith in the face of an unhelpful god (unlike say Salieri after an hour into Amadeus). They just had to tell themselves some verse, pray a bit and everything got reset... those guys who got crucified a distant memory.

But I think I could overlook all of that and get on board with the story if the basic goings on weren't so boring. The first 5 minutes that set the stage for their journey and gave the film an overall purpose was good, but from the time they land on the beach to the time I gave up watching could've been reduced to a 2-minute montage of snooping around and talking to locals and dodging the authorities. Instead it's stretched out into the most unhurried search and rescue film I've ever seen. They stop and set up churches along the way. Years seem to pass... or it felt like it. Uh guys are we still looking for Liam Neeson or is that just not a thing anymore? And they have nothing to go on. No clues. They seem to strike out in any direction. There's no sense of them getting any nearer or further from their goal in that first hour because nobody has any clue where they're going, everybody they talk to seems unreliable... It's bloody tedious to watch.

pixote

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Re: Silence
« Reply #39 on: August 07, 2017, 12:25:07 PM »
"too bad for those guys, let's hide in the bushes"

This would have been a much better title. :)

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.