“Silence” is a 2016 American historical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Jay Cocks and Scorsese, based upon the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō. The film was shot entirely in Taipei, Taiwan and stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano and Ciarán Hinds. n the seventeenth century, two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) who had committed apostasy after being tortured. The story takes place in the time of Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”) that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion (1637–38) of Japanese Roman Catholics against the Tokugawa shogunate. Now a score for a movie called “Silence” should be intriguing to listen to. The task and pleasure of writing it came to Kim Allen Kluge and Kathryn Kluge. I am expecting minimalistic meditative music and I can’t wait.
The promo release I am reviewing has 25 minutes of music, half of which is the opening cue “Meditation”; and like a true meditation piece it starts with sound effects like a gentle wind and the so familiar for me cicadas. This opening already sends me to a peaceful and relaxing place since I associate these sounds with vacation. I’ve recently listened and enjoyed Johann Johannsson’s score for “Arrival” out of context so I am int he right mood to appreciate a very experimental and unusual composition. “Silence” certainly is not your average film music album as it focuses on creating a soundscape appropriate for reflecting rather than imposing anything to the listener. This is a score that will draw some controversy because it’s sometimes hard to be labeled as “music”; for me as well it’s something else, a fascinating exploration of how various sounds put together (including elements like soft choirs, percussion and melodies) can form an inviting soundscape.
I am a big fan of minimalistic music, reflective music and nature sounds in music. As much as I enjoy this score there’s something missing to make it a favourite of mine: a little more melody, to put it simple. I feel like I needed something more to tie the beautiful and soft choirs to the marvellous sounds of wind and waves. I want to adore this score but there’s that distance, that void that the composers didn’t feel. I understand why they wrote the music like this, so bare, so cold; it serves the story and the times perfectly. After all we are talking about “Silence” and harsh conditions and cruel times. I enjoy it but something slips through the musical cracks and I am not immersed in it as I would have expected.
Still the spiritual component and the echoes of the choirs, so soft and distant that they sound drowned in the equally soft and peaceful waves that never go away keep me hypnotised and give me a feeling of having an endless open space just for myself. A cue like “Rain falls unceasingly on the sea” which literally sounds like that behind the soft choirs is something I’ve been dreaming of listening to, seeing, living, for a long time. At times this score made me think of what I often name my favourite score of all times, Hans Zimmer’s “Thin red line” because the nature elements reminded me of the “beam” sound that was used there a lot.
“Silence” is a fascinating composition and I’ll surely come back to it and listen to in in the context of the movie.
Cue rating: 89 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 8 / 26
Album excellence: 30%
Whispers in the Dark
Rain Falls Unceasingly on the Sea
Cicada Voices in His Head