Thinking Aloud About Scorsese’s ‘Silence’

Alex Duke | January 20, 2017

How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?

— Psalm 137:4

Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.

— Hugh Latimer, to his friend Nicholas Ridley, before they both were to be burned alive

* * * * *

A few Christmases ago, Christians were elated at the prospective release of Unbroken, the 2014 adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s award-winning book. The film, directed by Angelina Jolie, dramatized the life of Louis Zamperini: from juvenile delinquent to world-class Olympian; from fallen airman, lost at sea for 47 days, to prisoner of war, subjected to severe Japanese torture for more than two years; from an emblem of human courage to a 97-year-old man who died with his family by his side, his captors long forgiven.

Upon seeing the film, however, the elation disappeared for many. Unbroken fails for many reasons—leaden dialogue, poor casting, tonal inconsistency—but chief among them is that Jolie and her writing team simply misunderstood the arc of Zamperini’s life. They mistook the climax for the conclusion, casting Zamperini as a trophy for the triumph of the human will. He earns that…

To read the rest of this article, visit