Adventure Blu-ray Review

'Silence' Blu-ray Review: A contemplation on faith, Scorsese's latest proves as enlightening as it is challenging

March 29, 2017Ben MK

A passion project for director Martin Scorsese, Silence represents the culmination of nearly 30 years of effort to bring author Shūsaku Endō's 1966 novel to the screen. It also marks Scorsese's second time working with star Liam Neeson, with whom he last collaborated on 2002's Gangs of New York.

But whereas Neeson only played a character named Priest in that film, in Silence, he portrays an actual man of the cloth: a Jesuit named Father Ferreira, who vanishes in 17th-century Japan while on a mission to preach God's word to the nation's predominantly Buddhist population. Ferreira's disappearance — and the rumors of his apostasy — prompts two of his former pupils, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver), to make the dangerous voyage from Portugal to Japan, not only to find their mentor, but also to save his soul.

What they find paints a chilling portrait of the real-life atrocities of an era when many Japanese Christians were forced to practice their faith in secret, lest they risk the alternative, which included such torturous deaths as being beheaded, burned alive or drowned. Rodrigues and Garupe witness this firsthand, as they watch helplessly while a group of Japanese villagers are executed at the behest of the Inquisitor (Issei Ogata), prompting Rodrigues to wonder what these poor souls had done to deserve such a harsh trial of their faith.

Indeed, as Scorsese himself notes, "Silence has to do with faith, and what are the values of faith?" And accordingly, the screenplay — a joint effort by Scorsese and Jay Cocks, who also teamed with the director for Gangs of New York and The Age of Innocence — never forgets this core tenet, reminding the audience throughout. Make no mistake, the result is far from what might be considered light viewing material. However, for those who are determined to walk alongside these characters on this cinematic journey, the reward is as enlightening as it is challenging.

The cinematography of Silence proves to be one of the highlights of the movie. And thankfully, it's done justice by this 1080p transfer, which boasts a thoroughly film-like appearance and satisfying color saturation. Detail abounds in everything from the period costumes, to the rough-hewn textures of raw wood and roofs constructed out of grass, while the color palette is naturalistic, with the exception of some nighttime scenes bathed in a color-corrected blue hue. As for the quality of the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, it's largely dialogue-driven, with, of course, swaths of contemplative nothingness. Still, from the chirping of crickets to the sounds of wind, rain and waves hitting the shore, there's something to be said for the atmosphere it creates.

Paramount's single-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extra:

  • Martin Scorsese's Journey into Silence (24:30) - A look at the long road to making the film, the real-life historical events behind the story, the characters, the cast and their performances, the multinational crew, shooting in Taiwan, and the movie's visual palette.

Silence is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of March 28th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 41 Mins.

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