- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Legendary director Martin Scorsese’s historical drama about an emotional and violent exploration of the power of faith debuts in high definition in Silence (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, 161 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $39.99).

Based on real characters from the 17th century and the 1966 novel by Shūsaku Endō, the film features a pair of Portuguese Jesuit priests Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver) going on a perilous journey to find their mentor Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who was caught in the waves of purges against Christians in feudal Japan.

Pockets of Japanese villagers yearning for a Western spiritual rewakening help the priests during their travels, but danger is ever present from the Inquistor Inoue Masashige (Issey Ogata at his most deliciously complex) and his men who must stamp out the outlawed religion.

The priests ultimately find their beliefs shaken and willful idealism nearly crushed as their search for Father Ferreira leads to a reunion with unexpected results.

Viewer may question the madness of the duo practically sacrificing themselves for a comrade potentially long gone, daring to enter a country that does not want them, but they refuse to curtail their quest.

Mr. Scorsese and screenwriter Jay Cocks deliver an exhausting evening, exposing viewers to the horrors of religious persecution of the worst kind, including crucifixion, drowning, mass burnings and torture.

They ultimately put religion on trial as they chronicle humans willing to suffer for their forbidden faith with zero tangible proof of being reunited with a god ready to appreciate their sacrifices.

A movie reportedly 25 years in the making for the esteemed director, “Silence” is a meticulous crafted and riveting cinematic journey loaded with high-caliber, emotional performances.

Throughout, the digital transfer delivers gorgeous visuals highlighted by the Japanese countryside and the impeccable shaping of the period by Mr. Scorsese’s team, all revealed by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.

Best extra: Considering Mr. Scorsese’s obsession with the project, I am astounded and disappointed that no optional commentary track, or extended interview, exists on the Blu-ray disc.

Alas, viewers only get a 24-minute look at the genesis and execution of the movie. The much-too-short featurette offers snippets of interviews with many of the cast and crew.

The most informative passages come from a professor of Japanese history as well as the consulting Jesuit priest on the film, Father James Martin.

Additionally, it would not have hurt to add a historical documentary on the influence of Christianity and its demise in Japan.

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