Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Silence & The Rigors of Witness

Well, I finally watched Scorcese's Silence.  So, as promised earlier, here is the second installment of reflections.

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Adam Driver (Garupe) and Andrew Garfield (Rodrigues) in Silence; photo from AZ Central

First, visually it's a wonderful, lush movie.  

Rodrigo Prieto deserves all the praise he's received for his cinematography.  Sweeping vistas, crashing surf, nuanced colors and lighting--they're all here.  It makes sense that a "Catholic" movie would appear visually attractive.  We have St. Peter's Basilica, the pomp and ritual of the Mass everywhere, every day.  So a movie about Catholics should follow suit, and Silence does not disappoint.  For example, the starkly difficult choice Rodrigues faces are offset by several shots where fog and/or mist obscure the view.  The issues are not clear, the notion of Japan as a swamp where foreign faiths go to die, are embodied by the swirling mists in and out of which the characters move.

On this note, the cinematography's beauty stems from scenes shot up and across--valleys, ocean beaches, steamy rainforests, etc.  Part of the movie's difficult subject gets embodied, though, by the shots downward.  Mucky, sticky, omnipresent mud grounds the movie.  (A hint of this comes from the YouTube icon linked below.)  So, head in the cloud and feet stuck firmly in a foot of gluey mud--this is the movie Silence.

Which is right where any authentically Catholic movie about Japanese missions should be.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

connections reminder

Do the episodic postings of this blog get you down?  Looking for other connections to the Spiritual Diabetes discussions?

Google + here.  Yes, Google+;  laugh all you want, but that platform provides connections and conversations not found elsewhere.

One of these days Tumblr and/or Instagram, but before then there's a book manuscript to finish (alluded to here).  Which explains in part why the postings lately here have been fewer and further between.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Agonizing Beauty

Reflections on Scorese's Silence, part I
Warning:  Spoilers follow.

This will be the first of two posts on Martin Scorcese's Silence, a movie long-in-the-making version of Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel.  The second post will appear once I see the movie.  So what follows is a discussion of the novel and what some critics have made of the movie.  Here is a good overview of the movie and its content.

First, as expected from a talented director like Scorcese, the movie's visuals are stunning. After extensive success in Japan, Christianity found itself ruthlessly outlawed and persecuted in the seventeenth century. The movie follows two young Jesuit missionary priests who, hearing that their mentor has apostostasized, travel to Japan to confirm the rumors. 

Part of the shoguns' torture juxtaposed excruciating pain with the simplest, and pain-free, gesture. All arrested Christians were given the opportunity to apostasize by stepping barefoot on an image of Jesus (hence the fumie, literally "the stepping-on image").

Come on--what could be easier than that?