Silence

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Silence Movie Poster Image
Scorsese's difficult, gory, but magnificent religious epic.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 161 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Messages aren't clear-cut, but there's plenty to discuss. Explores the idea that no belief/kind of faith is necessarily right or wrong, as well as the idea that symbols and rituals don't necessarily need to be a part of belief/faith. Examines the nature of faith and why we believe.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are priests who are trying to do good in the world, but their efforts are met with resistance. Their mission is eventually thwarted while they learn painful lessons about other cultures and other kinds of belief.

Violence

Severed heads/beheading. Blood spraying. Burning faces, bodies with scalding water. People burning. People are crucified and drowned by ocean waves, as well as wrapped in mats and drowned. Characters are tortured in gory ways (e.g. hanging upside down, with a cut in neck). Bloody feet. Key characters die.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A supporting character is shown comically drunk in one scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Silence is a religious epic set in the 17th century from Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese. Anyone who loved his earlier films The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun (or pretty much any of his movies) will want to see this. It's complex, difficult, and at times unwieldy and gory, but it's also magnificent and masterful. Expect some scenes of very graphic violence: People are crucified and tortured in other ways, including drowning, scalding water, bleeding cuts, etc. Heads are severed, and blood sprays are shown. Characters die, including some main characters. In one scene, a secondary character is shown stumbling drunk, but otherwise, substance use, language, and sex aren't issues.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymyopinionisbest May 23, 2017

Ignore the negative reviews; this superb film is NOT faith derogatory or blasphemous

If you think this film is anti-Christian, you've completely missed the point. Silence is philosophically and emotionally complex, and at points even faith-... Continue reading
Adult Written byJess D. January 3, 2017

A thought-provoking and uncomfortable film

This film does not endorse the actions of any of the protagonists, and leaves multiple questions about the nature of faith and culture. Although torture is depi... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byfuzzynugget January 27, 2017

Silent But Deadly

Scorsese's "Silence" is a film of endurance for both the characters and for the audience. Prepare for close to three hours of tortuous, spiritual... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byzombieface January 24, 2017

It's not a movie you like or dislike, but one you simply experience.

Silence is really one of those types of movies that it's beautifully made but is really only for film enthiusiasts. It's extremely long and at parts h... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SILENCE, it's the 17th century, and two Jesuit priests -- Sebastiao Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver) -- hear someone read a letter from their mentor, Father Cristovao Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who has disappeared in Japan. He describes many tortures under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, which has outlawed Catholicism. Rodrigues and Garrpe decide to travel to Japan in hopes of finding Father Ferreira; they discover that the situation in the country is as miserable as Ferreira described. At first, they're hidden by a village of Christians who are hungry for religious leadership, but then Rodrigues journeys further inland. He slowly realizes that the idea of faith isn't so simple and that belief can take many forms. He also begins to wonder why, in the face of so much wretchedness, are his prayers not answered? Why is God silent?

Is it any good?

This religious epic, a dream project of director Martin Scorsese for decades, is somewhat difficult and unwieldy, as well as a bit gory, but it's also magnificent, beautiful, and masterful. The Oscar winner read the source novel by Shusaku Endo while in Japan in 1989 and has been trying ever since to bring it to the screen; it's impossible to guess whether the results could ever have been any better than this masterful drama. Silence is a mix of Hollywood grandeur and genuine existential, soul-searching, much like the films Scorsese grew up watching.

For some, Garfield may not seem enough of a heavyweight actor for the role of Garrpe, but his eyes reveal genuine pain as he struggles with his personal crisis. The wonderful Japanese actor Issey Ogata, playing an inquisitor, gives a breakout performance, adding weight and humanity to the "other" side of the argument. (Silence never settles for any easy answers.) Neeson and Driver are also excellent, lending their bodies and souls to the movie's powerful cinematic depiction of landscapes, which are every bit as treacherous and shifting as belief itself.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Silence. What effect does showing intense torture have? How does it compare to other kinds of movie violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • When the characters are given a chance to speak out against their faith or allow others to suffer, why do you think they make the choice they do? What would you have done?

  • Why do you think Ferreira chooses what he did? What has he learned about belief and faith? Is he right, or did he make a mistake?

  • How did you feel about the Japanese inquisitor character? Is he a stereotype? Is he oppressive? Does he have a fair point?

  • Who do you think this film is intended to appeal to? How can you tell? What makes something a "Scorsese movie"?

Movie details

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