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Author Topic: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence  (Read 182 times)

ronindave

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Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« on: February 06, 2017, 05:07:14 am »
Silence only came out in Japan about two weeks ago but I hear it didn't have a wide release in the US . Pity as it's a well-made film, beautifully shot, directed, acted, etc... I particularly like that there wasn't a swelling score like you often get with paint-by-the-numbers Oscar contenders.

From what I have seen there have been some misconceptions being batted about. Some Christians see it as anti-Christian film by Babylonian Hollywood telling Christians to be silent about their faith while seeing the Japanese as inherently Anti-Christian because of Buddhism. On the other side you have some people seeing the Japanese as the victims of Western Christian Imperialism and rightfully resisting the alien creed of Christianity.

The history behind Silence is quite interesting and complex and it explains what was actually going on. In the film and novel we only get a small sliver of the whole. The priests are just minor players of the great Catholic Church and the Spanish Empire. The Inquisitor is only a local official of a power Shogun government. Neither of them have any power to do much of anything.

Rodriquez (Garfield) can't promise the Spanish won't use Christianity to push their imperialistic designs nor can the Inquisitor accept Christianity or stop the persecution. When Christianity first came to Japan in 1549, Japan was in its Warring States Period (Sengoku) and local lords (daimyo) could do as they please. The lords of Kyushu welcomed the Jesuits and the trade which came with them. Meanwhile in Kyoto one lord who was working on unifying the country, Oda Nobunaga, encouraged the missionaries to continue their work because he hated the Buddhist sects which kept meddling in secular affairs. At that time you had Buddhist monastery complexes fielding armies which fought lords and other sects. You also had uprisings by Buddhist peasants of the Jodo-shu sect. They were an obstacle to unification and Oda hated them.

Flash forward to the story of Silence the reason Christianity was on the out with the new Shogun government was the fear the Spanish/Portuguese would use the Japanese Christians to back a daimyo puppet to take over the country. A year before the story takes place there was a large rebellion which came to be seen as a Christian revolt. It was put down brutally but it took a lot of effort to do so. The Portuguese were thought to have supported it so they were barred from visiting Japan ever again.

For more detail:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPW937iFTbs
Far be it for logic to stand in the face of overwhelming stupidity

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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 11:55:21 am »
Very interesting. I'd heard about the forced aposthetizing in my history classes, though we never delved much deeper into the subject. And you're right, Silence is by no means an anti-Christian film. It's just a story of two irreconcilable perspectives on the world. While I certainly hated the inquisitor, I still understood where he was coming from. One of the best films of the year for sure.
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Caleb Paasche

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Re: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2017, 04:41:07 pm »
Because of the unfortunately small release that you mentioned, I haven't gotten the chance to see the film yet, but nonetheless I appreciate your look into the history of the film and thank you for the well thought out post. President of long, intelligent posts Robert Neville would approve.
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Robert Neville

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Re: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2017, 05:07:05 pm »
Because of the unfortunately small release that you mentioned, I haven't gotten the chance to see the film yet, but nonetheless I appreciate your look into the history of the film and thank you for the well thought out post. President of long, intelligent posts Robert Neville would approve.

I approve indeed! I heard some of this before (the role of Nobunaga and Portuguese being banned), but never heard of others, like the jodo-shu, so it's always interesting. The film itself only came out in Russia last week, so I haven't seen it yet.

This story also reminds me a little of an older film I watched about 3 years ago, The Mission, which was about a Catholic outpost in South America getting sold out by Church Cardinals as a footnote to Spanish-Portuguese peace treaty. Hardly all-time great (more of a 7/10 film then anything), and rather more pro-Christian, but interesting enough regardless.

Robert Neville

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Re: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2017, 05:20:35 pm »
Also, ronindave, on the subject of movie theaters: can I just ask what the typical roster is like? I mean, back when I lived in Australia, you would probably be hard-pressed to tell their theaters from US ones: some release date differences aside, all the movies were the same US ones. Australian films do exist, but I think only Crowe's The Water Diviner and a perhaps a couple others got a wide release: even Babadook was limited release and flopped domestically , from what I recall.

In Russia, though, you'll see all the usual Hollywood blockbusters screened widely, as well as key Oscar contenders & such, but the second-fiddle films like The-Hundred-Foot-Journey and the like are replaced by 2-3 (almost invariably sh*tty) Russian films + a French or German semi-arthouse. In Japan, you must still have a robust industry, so I'm curious what your regular theaters tend to screen.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2017, 05:30:57 pm »
Portuguese being banned

When the Portuguese come in, they're not bringing their best... they're Christians... they're missionaries... and some, I assume, are good people.
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J. Kashmir

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Re: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2017, 07:09:02 pm »
I'm taking AP World History, and as a result I appreciated a line from Ferreira when talking about how the converted Japanese weren't Catholic in the sense that the missionaries were as a result of the cultural barrier - mostly in that Buddhist and Shinto concepts had to be used to relay the Gospel to the Japanese. That not only gives the film even more to chew on, but is also historically accurate in a way that doesn't diminish its impact.

Great film. It's currently in a three way tie for my favorite of the year.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 07:13:07 pm by J. Kashmir »

ronindave

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Re: Historical Background to Scorsese's Silence
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2017, 10:43:18 am »
I'm taking AP World History, and as a result I appreciated a line from Ferreira when talking about how the converted Japanese weren't Catholic in the sense that the missionaries were as a result of the cultural barrier - mostly in that Buddhist and Shinto concepts had to be used to relay the Gospel to the Japanese. That not only gives the film even more to chew on, but is also historically accurate in a way that doesn't diminish its impact.

The author mentioned the same which touches on his own struggle but what he didn't understand was that this had happened in Europe. St. Patrick supposedly used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the Irish whose mythology had the concept of triad deities.

The thing is that apparently Christianity as they understood gave the peasants a sense of hope and were willing to die for that hope.
Far be it for logic to stand in the face of overwhelming stupidity

 

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