West L.A. UMC to Screen Shinoda’s ‘Silence’

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A scene from Masahiro Shinoda’s “Silence” (Chinmoku).

West Los Angeles United Methodist Church, 1913 Purdue Ave. in Los Angeles, presents its seventh season of screening thoughtful Japanese and Asian feature and documentary films on the last Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

The series offers an opportunity to view and enjoy the collaborative nature of Japan’s traditions, history and culture through both award-winning contemporary and rare classic feature films.

The event is free and parking is available.

This month’s offering on Aug. 25 is “Silence” or “Chinmoku” (1971, 127 minutes), directed by Masahiro Shinoda and adapted from a novel by Shusaku Endo. (Martin Scorsese released a film based on the same novel last year.) The screenplay was by Endo and Shinoda; director of photography was Kazuo Miyagawa (“Ugetsu,” “Floating Weeds,” “Rashomon,” “Yojimbo”). Music score by Toru Takemitsu.

The cast includes Shima Iwashita, Tetsuro Tamba, Makoto “Mako” Iwamatsu, Eiji Okada, David Lampson and Don Kenny.

This award-winning film explores the violent cultural conflict during the arrival of Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century feudal Japan. Two Portuguese priests disembark upon an anonymous Japanese shore. Under cover of nightfall, they seek to infiltrate those Japanese Christian sects driven underground by a ruthless magistrate and re-establish the foothold of the Catholic Church on the isolated island nation.

“Silence” builds toward a revelation that approaches the impact of Col. Kurtz’s entrance in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” or Marlon Brando’s take on Kurtz in Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” Rendered in a color palette, courtesy of famed cinematographer Miyagawa, “Silence” unearths lies and beauty at the intersection of religion and Japanese society. This is a powerful look at one man’s (and a country’s) faith sruggles.

In Japanese with English subtitles. Warning: Contains strong torture scenes.

The next film in the series, to be screened on Sept. 29, is “Close-Knit” or “Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki wa” (2017, 128 minutes), directed by Naoko Igagami and starring Rinka Kakihara, Toma Ikuta, Kenta Kiritani, Eiko Koike and Misako Tanaka. It explores an unconventional family’s unconditional love.

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