Wheaton revisits “Silence”
October 5, 2017
On the evening of Sept. 28, Core Studies hosted a second screening of “Silence” by Martin Scorsese for students and faculty. First year students who attended viewed it as a culmination of their CORE 101 class discussions regarding the novel written by Japanese author Shusaku Endo. A panel comprised of Ray Chang, David Lauber, Joonhee Park, Miho Nonaka and Read Schuchardt ended the event with their own unique interpretations.
“Silence” — both the movie and book — wrestles with issues of morality and faith. Did Rodrigues, the protagonist, make the right decision? Did he genuinely renounce his faith? Due to the novel’s unclear resolution, the issue of whether Rodrigues committed the greatest act of selflessness or the greatest act of selfishness is up to the interpretation of the audience. After the movie concluded, the panelists discussed the presence of nature in “Silence.” The film did not include background music, but rather each scene was filled with sounds of nature. One panelist remarked, “in filmmaking, silence is the loudest sound you can make.”
Freshman Maddie Cash enjoyed hearing comments from Nonaka, who has also read the original Japanese version of the novel. Cash appreciated the balance between the movie and novel’s ending; the movie gave “relief” while the novel gave reality. Scorsese’s inclusion of Rodrigues holding a cross at his death did not follow the novel but allowed the audience to interpret him as someone who apparently followed Christ faithfully in an unexpected way, an affirmation the book does not clearly support. “The book does not have such a satisfying ending. It produces a personal interpretation,” remarked Cash. “Because Scorsese’s film is more explicit than the novel, both versions of “Silence” leave room for personal interpretation.”
Theology professor Keith Johnson believes that the novel introduces students to the kind of dynamic that defines a liberal arts education.
“As a professor, I hope to see students explore questions and issues from multiple angles in conversation with one another,” Johnson said. “Those are the moments that define a liberal arts education, and this novel prompts them again and again. It causes students to ask fresh questions, examine what they believe in a new way, and really think about what it means to be a Christian.”