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Silence


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That's very exciting... the only Endo I've read is The Samurai, which I loved, and has only intrigued me all the more about his other work.

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I'm in the middle of reading (and loving) this book RIGHT NOW! In fact, after watching a fair amount of Ozu and Mizoguchi (and Ikiru) lately, I'd actually been thinking how beautiful Silence would be directed by a Japanese master, who had a feel for that certain delicate, restrained and dignified tone that feels particularly Japanese to me. Not necessarily a tone I always associate with Scorsese. I thought Last Temptation (the novel) had more nuance -- not to mention a better grip on that whole spirit/flesh debate -- before he and Schrader got ahold of it. So we'll see...

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Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

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That's very exciting... the only Endo I've read is The Samurai, which I loved, and has only intrigued me all the more about his other work.

You MUST read Silence. Right now. Right NOW.

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Silence is one of the few books, along with The Cost of Discipleship and Kierkegaard's Practice in Christianity, that made me re-evaluate and take my faith much more seriously than before. Endo has since become one of my favorite authors. It is strong, strong medicine--not for the faint of heart at any rate--and honestly, I dread a movie remake of it. I don't know how well Scorsese will "get" the story, though in many ways Endo's liberal Catholicism is actually much more in line with the vision presented in Last Temptation of Christ (for proof, read Endo's non-fiction Life of Jesus). It is not a "conservative" book, though it is not unorthodox, either.

I will still probably watch it on opening weekend, however.

So yes. Read the book, now, if you haven't already.

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Hmmm... I've been meaning to read this book for about 5 years now. I suppose this would be a good time to finally track down a copy.

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Silence is one of the few books, along with The Cost of Discipleship and Kierkegaard's Practice in Christianity, that made me re-evaluate and take my faith much more seriously than before.  Endo has since become one of my favorite authors.  It is strong, strong medicine--not for the faint of heart at any rate--and honestly, I dread a movie remake of it.  I don't know how well Scorsese will "get" the story, though in many ways Endo's liberal Catholicism is actually much more in line with the vision presented in Last Temptation of Christ (for proof, read Endo's non-fiction Life of Jesus). 

Thanks for some context, Michael. Silence is my first Endo (though I see I have Wonderful Fool and The Final Martyrs on my shelf over there). Since I've not finished it, I'd not necessarily "placed" the author on the landscape yet myself. The title/theme, obviously, "silence," comes up again and again in Bergmanesque questions. I'd been looking forward to a more hopeful resolution. But already there's a bleakness that I can see developing in the direction of "strong, strong medicine." In the light of your comments, I'm seeing some kinship indeed with The Last Temptation, and perhaps even the very elements Scorsese latched upon and made the most with. Some of that, I felt, was coarsened in the translation from Kazantzakis' two-dimensional style (would it be a stretch to call it "iconic"?) and the more literal screen translation of the film. No doubt, similar dangers await a screen translation of this book. Stylistically, it feels stripped down and plain-spoken, yet not nearly as claustrophobic as The Last Temptation. Perhaps these Bergmanesque questions would do well with stark Bergmanesque visuals as well. But I'll have to finish reading before I offer Marty any more suggestions...

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Loved the book, but don't really see Scorsese as the right man for the job. Bresson would've been perfect.

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I get mixed feelings when I hear news like this. It's a book I have great affection for, so in that sense I would love to see the film adaptation. However, since it's a book I have such great affection for, I worry about the film adaptation. It would be so disappointing for those invovled to stumble in the telling of this story. Here's to hoping they get it right.

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I too occasionally have doubts about Scorsese's ability to make subtle religious commentary. There were moments in Gangs of New York in which the imagery was so heavy that it made the scene almost comical - for example, when they are protecting the church. Upon entering the place is flooded with yellow and red light and a huge crucifix hangs over the alter. However, the film I would point to that demonstrates his ability to tackle spirituality and morality subtly would be the only one in which he steps away from Christianity. Kundun in my humble opinion is a much overlooked film (at the time of its release for the wrong reasons - it threatened Disney's potential distribution deal in China and so was released very quietly and not to a wide market. I notice it's also overlooked on the top 100 list). For me, it's his and Thelma Schoonmaker's best editing job alongside Goodfellas. I hope that he is able to capture the same quiet spirituality that he does in this film. Perhaps he needs to be removed from his local upbringing and beliefs to avoid the Roman Catholic imagery his films are steeped in and be able to do himself justice.

I must add that any Scorsese film is still received warmly from this corner as they are always interesting and challenging. I'd just like to see him try his hand at something he isn't already so practiced at.

Edited by gigi

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Yeah, I remember liking Kundun quite a bit, too (and I love the Philip Glass soundtrack, which I listen to fairly often). Interestingly, one local critic complained that the film was too still -- he complained that Scorsese had forgotten the "motion" part of "motion picture" -- so if stillness and silence go together, who knows, this could work.

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I have the soundtrack. I love the bells throughout. I remember when I watched the film, the music struck me as sounding very familiar. I then rewathced The Thin Blue Line (an amazing documentary about a man wrongly sentenced on death row - the film actually guaranteed his release from prison) and realised why it was so familiar: it's more or less entirely lifted from the soundtrack Glass did for this film. Bigger budget, though, so more depth but otherwise the same.

I love how Scorsese uses the music to edit in Kundun. He's always been sensitive to tempo and pace but in the cuts of the swooping shots over the mountains he strikes the perfect accord between music and image.

It's interesting that you relate stillness to silence. I think you're right to equate the two, however in Kundun Scorsese manages to capture stillness with an incredibly powerful soundtrack to boot. Perhaps it takes more skill to do the latter successfully. It will be very interesting to see how Scorsese - a very music and dialogue centred director -approaches silence.

Edited by gigi

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I was talking with a guy in my church who spent some time as a missionary in Japan, and mentioned that I really liked Endo's stuff. He seemed a little nonplussed at that. Apparently, Endo isn't quite as revered in Japan, as his beliefs weren't exactly orthodox. The only stuff I really know about Endo's life is what Phillip Yancey wrote about him in Soul Survivor (which is what intrigued me in the first place). Can anyone here shed a bit more light on this?

Edited by opus

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gigi wrote:

: I remember when I watched the film, the music struck me as sounding very

: familiar. I then rewathced The Thin Blue Line . . . and realised why it was so

: familiar: it's more or less entirely lifted from the soundtrack Glass did for this film.

Eh? I listen to the soundtracks to both films often and have never found them to be all THAT similar. If you want a soundtrack that lifts an entire tune from The Thin Blue Line and recycles it almost note for note, check The Hours.

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Eager to see this one!

My only exposure to Endo is his play THE GOLDEN COUNTRY, which is very powerful. If (as I understand) SILENCE takes place in a similar setting, I can see the Scorsese connection (Catholicism, violence) and the post-PASSION marketability (Catholicism, violence).

Those of you who know SILENCE, is it a similar story to what's described below?

Shusaku Endo; THE GOLDEN COUNTRY (tr Francis Mathy)

Cast: 11 + extras (9M 2W B G M/W/B/G)

"1633, nearly 100 years after Christianity was introduced into Japan. The persecution of Christians by the government is fierce: the aim is to make every Christian apostatize or suffer a slow, agonizing death. We are introduced to a Christian farming community that provides shelter for a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Father Ferreira. Everybody looks to him for help - even the chief of the Bureau of Investigation, himself a Christian in his youth. 

spoilers1.gif

When after cruel torture Father Ferreira apostatizes to the disbelief of his Japanese converts, the play reaches a climax that is later capped only by the courage, nobility and love of the martyrs" (cover). The play ends with the arrival of four Christian priests under cover of night.

Graham Greene greatly admired Endo's novel Silence, which apparently deals with very similar subject matter. And it is no wonder: the similarities to his own works such as The Power And The Glory are very clear. This is a very substantial and, I think, stageworthy play. Not real commercial in its appeal, but as theatrical art, very promising. I would highly recommend it for a university setting, or for a professional theatre that can tackle a work such as this.

1960? written, 1970 translated

OP: Tuttle

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Posted (edited) · Report post

My only exposure to Endo is his play THE GOLDEN COUNTRY, which is very powerful. If (as I understand) SILENCE takes place in a similar setting

This sounds like the prequel to Silence, as it tells the story of those four missionaries arriving after Father Ferreira apostasizes. How interesting. I'll have to track this down.

Edited by John

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Hmmm, time for me to dig out an article I wrote on the Vancouver film festival for the October 22, 1996 issue of ChristianWeek, and this excerpt therein:

- - -

The Eyes of Asia, from Portuguese director Joao Mario Grilo, goes back to 17th century Japan to tell the story of Julian of Nakaura, a Japanese Jesuit priest who was tortured to death for refusing to renounce his faith. Grilo mixes the historical narrative with a modern "story" in which a European (Geraldine Chaplin) visits Nagasaki and learns the story of Julian's martyrdom from the priests who keep his memory alive.

The cross-cutting between these two timeframes feels a little awkward at times, but Julian's faith is treated respectfully ... except, perhaps, for a curious epilogue which gives the last word to Cristovao Ferreira, the Jesuit provincial who succumbed to torture, renounced his faith, and spent the last 20 years of his life working for the shogun. In this last scene, Grilo seems to question whether the Jesuits should have ever come to Japan in the first place, despite the obvious joy he lets Julian show in his Christian faith.

- - -

http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0117235/

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Thanks, Peter. Nifty tie-in. I wonder if there's any way to get a copy of that one?

(And John, if you check out available sources like inter-library loan and online booksellers and such, and can't turn up a copy of THE GOLDEN COUNTRY, contact me and I could photocopy the play for you and send it.)

Ron

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I listen to the soundtracks to both films often and have never found them to be all THAT similar

It was similar enough that I recognised them with about a 2 year gap in between viewing either film. However, haven't listened to The Thin Blue Line since then or seen The Hours so couldn't comment further. Shall give them another go, bearing this in mind smile.gif

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(And John, if you check out available sources like inter-library loan and online booksellers and such, and can't turn up a copy of THE GOLDEN COUNTRY, contact me and I could photocopy the play for you and send it.)

Thanks for the offer, Ron. I'll let you know if I can't find it.

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I finished reading Silence about ten days ago, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Now, it turns out, SPU's Response magazine is going to run a review of the book by a friend of mine, one of my favorite professors, Luke Reinsma, and so there'll be no escaping it for a while.

I can think of only a few books that I've found so compelling and challenging. I carry around a burden for Sebastian Rodrigues. I wrestle daily with his decision, and with Endo's conclusion.

Curious: There's already a film version of Silence in the IMDB. And it's not the Scorsese project. Anybody know anything about this?

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No... but I do see that it stars the venerable Mako.

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Anybody know anything about this?

Yeah Jeffrey--that's the documentary about the educated public's worldwide reaction when Hollywood decided Steven Sommers would become a household name. It's compelling, but the parts with Sommers in them drag.

On the plus side, the subtitles help one learn how to curse in 26 different languages.

Edited by Jason Bortz

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'bots.

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