Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

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Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for . Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

, then translated into English in 1969) is slippery and problematic, a book that refuses to work. No one reads; he doesn’t want to please anyone. Telling the story of Portuguese priests and the training of Christians in Japan, it explores the tension between missionary and colonizer, East and West, Christianity and Buddhism and political ideology. , but he refused to get definitive answers.

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It was opposed and condemned by the Catholic Church and other conservative Christians 28 years ago. It is almost impossible to capture the nuances of a story like Endō for the screen; Masahiro Shinoda tried it in 1971, and Endō reportedly hated the result. But Scorsese comes as an afterthought, and the results are difficult for both the faithful and the skeptics.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

The struggle for faith in a world marked by suffering and the silence of God is everywhere

. The answers are not found in Scorsese’s film, as in Endō’s novel, but in the spaces between them.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

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This is the story of two young Portuguese Catholic priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver). They learn from their superior (Ciarán Hinds) that their former teacher Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who went to Japan as a missionary, has resigned – in other words, renounced his faith. There is a rumor that he lives with his wife among the Japanese.

Not believing what Ferreira said, Rodrigues and Garrpe asked and were allowed by the church to travel to Japan, where they arrived in 1639 amid the government’s ban on Christianity. They meet a fisherman named Kichijiro (Yôsuke Kubozuka), who agrees to land them on an island near Nagasaki.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

The Japanese government’s opposition to Christianity, and the movement of religious people to practice their faith underground, was the result of a complex set of political factors. These included the entry of Europeans into the country, which the government considered a security threat, and the Shimabara Rebellion, an uprising of hungry peasants against their masters. Persecuting Christians was one way to end the rebellion.

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Life (“Secret Christianity”), who practice their faith in secret to avoid scrutiny from the government – especially the Inquisitor Inoue (Issei Ogata), who tortures them until they return. Inoue’s favorite way to convert believers is to force them to step on a fumie, a carved image of Christ. Those who trample, live. Those who refused were tortured and killed.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

Rodrigues and Garrpe live in secret, serving the villagers and others nearby. They feel compassion for the people, who live hard in oppression and hunger. But the priests are betrayed by Kichijiro (who is the Judas figure in the story), separated, and brought under the supervision of Inoue.

From there, Rodrigues is the main focus, as he sees the persecution of Christians and is told that if he leaves, if he steps on the fumie and denies his faith, others will. But how did he think that? And what does it mean for him – a priest, sworn to serve Christ – to choose to do so? When he saw the persecution of Japanese Christians, he demanded answers. But he could not be paid.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

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Endo is Japanese and Catholic, which means that wherever he goes, he is an outsider: His fellow Buddhists look at him with suspicion for his religion, while the Europeans he lives with are for years in France he considers himself a stranger. his people. He is very familiar with the experience of being a human being, and he understands how he understands everything.

His ideas about the relationship between soul and body that he had gathered from years of suffering and hospitalization due to the reappearance of his lungs were further enhanced. (At one point, he spent two years in the hospital). For Endō, there is no easy way in life; The human body – his nature, his weakness, his susceptibility to pain and desire – is as much his link to the life and suffering of Christ as the human soul. (In one of Endō’s stories, which is partly autobiographical, the main character is a Japanese scholar of French literature, who struggles with faith and studies the Marquis de Sade, whose name is sadism.)

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

All these paradoxes shaped Endō’s thinking about the contradictions of his faith: for example, the conundrum of Christ, who in Christian teaching is fully God and fully man. Or the conundrum of Christians who are taught to imitate Christ, knowing that this is an impossible task for sinful people. Or the conflict between cultures that he saw as intense, that is the connection with colonialism and oppression.

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And as a Catholic, Endo believes in the doctrine of the Incarnation – that is, the belief that Jesus, the Son of God, was incarnated in ancient Israel, during the Roman occupation. Jesus lived as a carpenter and a traveling preacher among farmers and villages, and he died, his body wounded and pierced, because he was a threat to the government. Rome and the religious leaders who conquered it.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

So the difficulty of entering a culture that is not his own is not lost on Endō, and he can see it through the knowledge of Christ. But as someone who has experienced his pain firsthand – and as a citizen of a country marked by colonization – Endō can struggle. People are not Christ. To imitate Christ is to imitate his nature, but no one can hope to do it without reward, and no one can do it well. The challenges are obvious

Scorsese is perfect in portraying Endō at length: a born Catholic – he thought of becoming a priest – who was once rejected by the church, and a man known for the relationship between body and soul, sin and redemption. .

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

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, Scorsese has found his natural game for answering those questions, and he does so with great restraint. (Readers of Endō’s novel saw depictions of torture; in Scorsese’s hands it was more mental than visual. Answer, we are off track. It was explained that this was to make the film a kind of “pilgrimage”, that shows a journey and a struggle, and it shows.

The shooting and movement are good, but it’s not what you’d call lifting. A film that requires reflection, and re-watching.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

This is in the case of Rodrigues, because his beard hangs on a double thread: his work as a European missionary in Japan – what from the 21st century might look like a “white healer” ” poor – and his place as a priest. trying to understand how to be like Christ and quietly knowing that he can’t, or maybe not as he thinks.

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It depends on seeing the story that Rodrigues tells, and thus is shaped by his ideas. The point at which the change in narrators appears is the film’s inflection point. Everything depends on that change.

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

Double-edged sword in Rodrigues’ opinion of his work. He sees himself as a minister for the people of Japan, and so he: The role of the priest in Catholic language is to carry out, in a small way, the traditional work that Christ does between the worshiper and the God himself. (There was a time then

, when Rodrigues and Garrpe first met with the secret Christians on the island, where the secret Christians explained that they had no priest to administer the sacraments, they came with the prayer of a substitute priest, but not anointed, and thinking them if perhaps. that’s good. assured Rodrigues and Garrpe.)

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

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Rodrigues is more flexible in his use of his knowledge of faith in Japanese culture than Garrpe. When one of his family asks if it is worth stepping on the fumie to save their own lives, he says. But he held himself, a minister, in a high position: One thing for the Japanese believer to tread on, and another for him.

There is a sense of patronage here (and it is the 1630s, after all). Rodrigues always spoke of believers as miserable, suffering, living and dying like animals; He sees them as people and deserving of life, but not as people as much as they need to be cared for. (For those paying close attention, the

Island Journeys That Reveal The Ever-present Tension Between The Allure Of Paradise And The Inherent Dangers Of Isolation

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