Sunday, December 10, 2017

Absence

Now Playing: Violet Orlandi - The Dope Show (Marilyn Manson cover)

I wasn't feeling all that well yesterday; slept for two hours, was mad and heartbroken about a bunch of stuff, and ended up late to work because of an early Saturday morning crash somewhere on 826.

With so much hanging over my head, I figured it was the perfect mindset to be in to watch Martin Scorsese's Silence. Mostly because I knew from previews and general subject matter and even the director that it was going to be a stone cold bummer, so since it wasn't going to make me feel worse, it was as good a time as any to watch it.

Weirdly, I haven't seen that much of Scorsese's movies, even if I do know them by name. Took me forever to finally get around to watching Taxi Driver and I saw The Departed with my dad when I was little. I was obsessed over finally reading and seeing Shutter Island back when I had an interest in the subject of psychiatric facilities, but never got around to it. Not much since, though I know I should at least give Wolf of Wallstreet a try.

(Side note, this is why I'm always hesitant to call myself a film buff; I'm missing too many directors' bodies of work. Do you know I've only seen like four Stanley Kubrick movies? One of them is not Full Metal Jacket).

Anyways, it left me a little horrified. It's a gorgeous film to look at it, but it's also always strange to see things from the perspective of very religiously devout people when I've lived most of life without giving the concept of god much of a thought. I used to when I was younger, but (cheap shot) I also used to believe in Santa. It's not that hard to see how my mind has changed since. But it's hard to put myself in the shoes of who I was and what I thought--especially in regards to something as abstract as faith--back then.

When the climactic scene of Silence happened, I was expecting what the character would do, but not what would finally make him do so. It's not a punch in the gut, but it's not supposed to be. It stung, more than anything. Not because of the action that takes place (it'd been building to that point and I was leaning towards the assumption that it was going to happen) but because of an artistic decision the storytellers make. I interpreted it one way because I'm an atheist, but that interpretation will vary from person to person. 

It also reminded me of a scene in The Witch, which 100% is a punch to the gut (this time because it's meant to be.) It's almost an exact reversal to Silence given the characters involved, but also very similar in terms of what actually happens.

I'm trying to be vague because I'd hate to spoil, but it did eventually lead me to the conclusion that the two films would make for a great double feature. Uh. Provided you don't mind slower-paced movies where you suffer the whole way through and then leave thoroughly depressed afterwards (although I'd argue The Witch has a very happy ending for its poor heroine; again, that interpretation is purely colored by the fact that I'm an atheist).

Both films are ultimately about the abject silence of God in the face of tangible horror. It's such a foreign subject to me, but it's fascinating nonetheless. Although I can't decide if seeing it explored from the perspective of believers further alienates and confuses me, or if it actually allows me to sympathize with their crisis of faith. 

At the moment, I think further exploration is needed on my end. It's still difficult not to bring in my own perspective and have that, perhaps unfairly, paint a particular judgmental attitude about it. But I know it's worth thinking about, and if there are any atheists out there who find the subject interesting too, watching The Witch and Silence is a good way to start.

Although really--everyone should watch those movies. Just prepare to feel bummed out for several hours in a row. (Your mileage, as always, may vary.)

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.