Details: Released in 2016. Directed by Martin Scorsese. About two hours and forty minutes long. Stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson.
There’s a lot of history, not only on the subject matter of the film, but of the production of it. I’ve read various articles saying that this film has been in production for decades. Scorsese dreamed about making this film for years and finally had his opportunity to do so. Additionally, the movie is based on a book.
This movie is about two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to find a lost priest and propagate their faith. If you are unfamiliar with the history upon which this movie centers upon, in the 1600’s (the time period of this film I think) the Japanese persecuted and killed vast numbers of Japanese people who had converted over to Christianity due to Western missionaries.
First and foremost, you should know that this film is ridiculously long, over two and a half hours long. In this day and age, if you are going to make a movie this unbelievably long, it better be good. It better be an epic. While it certainly feels like Scorsese is trying to make an epic, whether he accomplishes that is hard to say.
Something I like in movies and is certainly present in this film is that you can tell that something was meant to accomplished in the making of this film. A certain kind of story was trying to be conveyed. There’s a lot of unrelated things I want to say so it might be easier with bullet points.
- Watching this movie gave me some flashbacks of Rashomon in regards to the tribunals.
- The cinematography was great. I’m a sucker for symmetry and landscapes.
- The story felt at times like a parable from the Bible. There’s a structure to it and the use of suffering as a test is a common theme.
- There is a lot of Japanese in the film, which is interesting because Scorsese is not Japanese. He’d have to learn Japanese or have someone else act as an intermediary in order to get the Japanese dialogue to sound authentic. As someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, I don’t know how right the got the Japanese performances. As someone who doesn’t speak that language, it sounded convincing.
- There was a lot of editing imperfections and errors. I still enjoyed the film regardless, but the fourth wall was broken a few times.
- The actors did a fine job.
- The measure of a good film to me is where I truly feel something versus feeling apathetic. I felt no compulsion to cry in this film, but I did feel something for the characters and this story.
- Making a film involving two real cultures is difficult without ostracizing one of the cultures. I think Scorsese did a decent job even though this story definitely leans more towards Western audiences.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It was something unique out of the year’s movies. I certainly don’t think it should win best picture due to careless editing errors and a ridiculous length, but I can still recommend a watch if you have three hours to spare.