Monday, January 09, 2017


Saw 'The Silence' yesterday. Here is The Guardian's review which gives the background and the story but in its heading needlessly highlights Liam Neeson who is not that significant in the film. He does a good job, as always, but that's not the point.

I thought the film was visually stunning, the script nuanced, the pace slow and unobtrusive enough to let you think, the directing/acting excellent from everyone but I agree with the Guardian that Adam Driver would have been better cast in Andrew Garfield's role. However I don't want to talk in cinematic terms (am incompetent to do so even if I wanted to). What interests me most in this film is that it leaves a door open for philosophical/ethical questions and doesn't attempt to answer them for you. 

Obvious questions regarding religious faith: 
If there is a God why is He/She/It silent in the face of suffering? 
Which religious or non-religious teachings are the kindest, truest, most beneficial to humans and to the world? 
Should any believers try to convert anyone to their beliefs, whether religious, atheist, political? 
What should you do about beliefs which threaten your existence, your culture, your identity? 
How important are symbols of your beliefs such as images, relics and other artefacts? 

What immediately came up as I left the cinema, got on a bus and took out my notebook (as usual when a thought seems worth jotting down) was the concept of heroism. Who is or is not a hero?
The martyrs who endure unspeakable torture rather than deny their relgious faith?
The soldiers who accept torture and death in order to defend their country?
The conscientious objectors who refuse to go to war?
The Jew or Christian or Muslim or Hindu or member of any other denomination or race who denies it in order to save him/herself and family from extermination?
The child who refuses to snitch on a classmate who has done some dreadful deed?
The whistleblower who publicly reveals information which will wreck his/her life but will expose serious wrongdoings?

And what about symbols: flags for instance. Desecrating their country's flag is seen as a crime by some, whereas they may see others' veneration of an image or a book as nonsense.

I don't have answers. But I welcome a film which elicits hard questions.


Unknown said...

Have you not thought on these (hard questions) all your life?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Leah, yes, I have. It certainly wasn't this film which suddenly made me think about such questions. I normally write my thoughts in notebooks or diaries - I've done that all my life. But since the internet and since I started a blog, I sometimes use it to comment on questions I'm mulling over. I started a blog 14 years ago so, looking through the main 'Blaugustine' archive (before this mirror blog on Blogger)there are quite a few philosophical ruminations.

Unknown said...

Yes, I thought so. I think that is why I stop by every now and then. Thanks.

Bryan White said...

Sounds like a recommendation. Might have to check this one out.

Bryan White said...

Grrrrr! Not playing in the theaters around me.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

B.W. maybe you can get it on DVD ? No doubt it will eventually appear.

Bryan White said...

They might have it here in a few weeks. That happens sometimes. I think it happened with The Revenant

Marly Youmans said...

I've been rather saddened by reviews that tend to narrow the meaning of the film, or to examine it from some axe-grinding perspective of the current day.

I want to read Makoto Fujimura's book, "Silence and Beauty," which I bought when it came out but is still in The Pile That Waits. He wrote in connection with Endo's novel (he was advisor to Scorsese, by the by.) Soon.