Silence movie – Exploring the limits of faith

Silence movie is the third entry in Martin Scorsese’s Trilogy of Faith. Similar to The Last Temptation Of Christ and Kundun, this epic is about the Catholic perception of the world. The film has been called Scorsese’s passion project, as it had been in the works for almost three decades. After working on The Wolf Of Wall Street, Scorsese decided to put all his efforts into making Silence, and the film was finally released in 2016. One of the many things that Scorsese explores in this epic is faith and its limitations.


Silence begins with a harrowing scene where we witness Japanese officials in the 17th century torturing a few Christian converts. We also see a priest, Cristóvão Ferreira, helplessly watching them suffer. A few years after this, we see a Jesuit priest Alessandro Valignano inform two of Ferreira’s students that Ferreira has apostatized, i.e., given up his faith and has settled down in Japan. Both the priests, Sebastião Rodrigues and Francisco Garupe, are unable to believe this news. They, therefore, decide to leave for Japan in search of Ferreira by themselves.

Father Ferreira in Silence movie
Father Ferreira

In Japan, the priests witness several scenes of horror the converts suffer through. They watch as several people around them die to protect them from the Japanese, and the most the priests can do for the converts is pray. Garupe dies in their journey when he refuses to apostatize to save a few converts. Eventually, Rodrigues meets Father Ferreira, who actually has apostatized and has become a Japanese citizen. Despite holding on to his faith, Rodrigues eventually apostatizes, similar to Ferreira, and becomes a Japanese citizen too.

Limits of faith portrayed in Silence movie

Rodrigues sincerely thought that his faith in God would ultimately save all of the converts before embarking on his journey to Japan. However, despite Rodrigues holding on to his faith, the villagers of Tomogi died, and the village of Goto got destroyed. Even the converts who were captured with Rodrigues ultimately died, despite him strengthening them to hold on to their faith. No matter how much Rodrigues prayed to God to spare the innocents, all he received in return for his faith was silence…

Rodrigues with Michiko
Rodrigues with Michiko

In one scene, Rodrigues tells Michiko that he can trample on an image of Jesus to save himself from death. This makes it clear that Rodrigues puts survival above acts of denouncing. Though at the end, when Rodrigues is told to step on an image of Jesus to save five innocent people, he refuses to do so. This hypocritical nature in Rodrigues comes from his superiority complex that derives from his faith. He considered his faith to be above others, and therefore could never consider giving up his faith. For Rodrigues, his faith was his pride.

However, by the end of the film, Rodrigues perception of his faith broke entirely. His faith alone could have never saved the converts, and holding on to it against such insurmountable odds is ultimately futile. Along with that, he saw that his faith didn’t give him the right to be above anyone else either. His infallible idea of his faith stopped him from seeing the limitations it held. This infallibility ultimately became his pride, which Rodrigues let go of when he finally apostatized.

Aryaman Kumar

I'm a nerd and I write nerdy stuff

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