In Japanese movie ‘Silence’, Christianity in 17th century Japan gets the Buddhist treatment

51384-ipvndonemw-1487018501The 1971 version by Masahiro Shinoda successfully integrates the visions of the novelist and film director.

Narrative cinema has the ability to take a descriptive story and translate it into images and sounds that can be enjoyed in themselves. In the case of a literary adaptation, the descriptive power of these images and sounds is related to the degree of elaboration that the author offers in the original novel. A filmmaker chooses a particular novel only if the themes of the novel and the concerns of the author match his/her own cinematographic concerns.

This is most certainly the case with Masahiro Shinoda’s Silence (1971), a precursor to Martin Scorsese version that is being released on February 17. Silence, based on Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel by the same name, is about the gross violations committed by the Japanese in the 17th century against Christianity. The film centres on a priest, Rodrigues, and his struggles with the local feudal lords (the daimyo) and warrior communities (the samurai), until he is forced to give up his own faith. Rodrigues’s battle is played off against a Japanese Christian, Kichijiro, who voluntary gives up his faith.

Shinoda’s Silence is a successful adaptation primarily because the filmmaker’s concerns are the same as those of the novelist. Endo, a Catholic who suffered persecution in Japan, uses the diaristic form to describe the circumstances that lead to the conditions in which the novel plays out. This is most suited to Shinoda, who believed his cinema to be one of the catalysts in pitting the individual against the community.

The diaristic form points to the act of writing. Shinoda transforms this concern into speech, with Rodrigues speaking out lines from his diary in the lush Japanese countryside. The director often translates Endo’s descriptive passages into spoken dialogue, as if to suggest that cinema is a medium of showing and not telling.

Shinoda’s conception of cinema is one in which the figure is subsumed into the landscape. Much like Endo’s novel, Shinoda’s film is eventually Buddhist in form, as it puts forth a vision in which the elements of nature are to be worshipped. This Zen-like approach makes the concerns of communicating the sufferings of the Christians seem paradoxical, for the film in itself takes a paganistic approach to the content.

For Shinoda, the struggle is not between an individual and his faith but between the individual and nature. Cinema has the ability to transform words into spaces. Shinoda’s approach to space is closer to a documentary. He carefully places the camera at a distance, almost making nature a character with the landscape as its face. This is communicated in a carefully constructed colour scheme. Whereas Christianity is communicated through man-made warm tones such as reds and light browns, the Buddhist elements of nature are communicated in cool greens and blues. This creates a number of interesting juxtapositions. The figure of Christ, represented by Rodrigues, is invariably dressed in an inorganic red and placed in a natural background comprising cool tones.

Shinoda’s cinema often crossed genres, evading easy classification. Silence nestles within the jidai-geki, or the historical drama genre. Jidai-geki uses historical content, with the lead character, invariably the samurai, presenting a vision of contemporary Japanese society. In Silence, the intolerance of the Buddhists is pitted against the fate of Rodrigues, who becomes the opposite of what he seems to preach, thus underlining the hypocrisy of Japanese mores.

The film uses variable techniques and approaches to tell Endo’s story. The documentary style of naturalism is juxtaposed with architectural interiority, and the two create a tension that translates into a cinematic grid, with light serving as its basis. The ending, which contradicts Rodrigues’s ideas on fidelity, is communicated through freeze frames belonging to that most anarchic mode of film-making – the avant-garde or experimental approach.

Although Silence was a successful adaptation on most counts, Shinoda, an atheist, changed the ending of Endo’s text to the author’s chagrin. Shinoda could not engage with Endo’s belief of Christianity as a universal religion. The ending of the book is deeply religious, but Shinoda translates this religiosity in sexual terms.

Silence is a masterpiece for its ability to translate the novel’s concerns at the level of content into cinematographic concerns at the level of form. Most importantly, it is able to integrate the visions of the novelist and film director with the vision of cinema to produce a satisfying cinematic experience that transcends mere storytelling.In Japanese movie ‘Silence’, Christianity in 17th century Japan gets the Buddhist treatment
The 1971 version by Masahiro Shinoda successfully integrates the visions of the novelist and film director.

In Japanese movie ‘Silence’, Christianity in 17th century Japan gets the Buddhist treatment
Feb 15, 2017.
Devdutt Trivedi
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Narrative cinema has the ability to take a descriptive story and translate it into images and sounds that can be enjoyed in themselves. In the case of a literary adaptation, the descriptive power of these images and sounds is related to the degree of elaboration that the author offers in the original novel. A filmmaker chooses a particular novel only if the themes of the novel and the concerns of the author match his/her own cinematographic concerns.

This is most certainly the case with Masahiro Shinoda’s Silence (1971), a precursor to Martin Scorsese version that is being released on February 17. Silence, based on Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel by the same name, is about the gross violations committed by the Japanese in the 17th century against Christianity. The film centres on a priest, Rodrigues, and his struggles with the local feudal lords (the daimyo) and warrior communities (the samurai), until he is forced to give up his own faith. Rodrigues’s battle is played off against a Japanese Christian, Kichijiro, who voluntary gives up his faith.

Shinoda’s Silence is a successful adaptation primarily because the filmmaker’s concerns are the same as those of the novelist. Endo, a Catholic who suffered persecution in Japan, uses the diaristic form to describe the circumstances that lead to the conditions in which the novel plays out. This is most suited to Shinoda, who believed his cinema to be one of the catalysts in pitting the individual against the community.

The diaristic form points to the act of writing. Shinoda transforms this concern into speech, with Rodrigues speaking out lines from his diary in the lush Japanese countryside. The director often translates Endo’s descriptive passages into spoken dialogue, as if to suggest that cinema is a medium of showing and not telling.

Play
Silence (1971).
Shinoda’s conception of cinema is one in which the figure is subsumed into the landscape. Much like Endo’s novel, Shinoda’s film is eventually Buddhist in form, as it puts forth a vision in which the elements of nature are to be worshipped. This Zen-like approach makes the concerns of communicating the sufferings of the Christians seem paradoxical, for the film in itself takes a paganistic approach to the content.

For Shinoda, the struggle is not between an individual and his faith but between the individual and nature. Cinema has the ability to transform words into spaces. Shinoda’s approach to space is closer to a documentary. He carefully places the camera at a distance, almost making nature a character with the landscape as its face. This is communicated in a carefully constructed colour scheme. Whereas Christianity is communicated through man-made warm tones such as reds and light browns, the Buddhist elements of nature are communicated in cool greens and blues. This creates a number of interesting juxtapositions. The figure of Christ, represented by Rodrigues, is invariably dressed in an inorganic red and placed in a natural background comprising cool tones.

Shinoda’s cinema often crossed genres, evading easy classification. Silence nestles within the jidai-geki, or the historical drama genre. Jidai-geki uses historical content, with the lead character, invariably the samurai, presenting a vision of contemporary Japanese society. In Silence, the intolerance of the Buddhists is pitted against the fate of Rodrigues, who becomes the opposite of what he seems to preach, thus underlining the hypocrisy of Japanese mores.

The film uses variable techniques and approaches to tell Endo’s story. The documentary style of naturalism is juxtaposed with architectural interiority, and the two create a tension that translates into a cinematic grid, with light serving as its basis. The ending, which contradicts Rodrigues’s ideas on fidelity, is communicated through freeze frames belonging to that most anarchic mode of film-making – the avant-garde or experimental approach.

Although Silence was a successful adaptation on most counts, Shinoda, an atheist, changed the ending of Endo’s text to the author’s chagrin. Shinoda could not engage with Endo’s belief of Christianity as a universal religion. The ending of the book is deeply religious, but Shinoda translates this religiosity in sexual terms.

Silence is a masterpiece for its ability to translate the novel’s concerns at the level of content into cinematographic concerns at the level of form. Most importantly, it is able to integrate the visions of the novelist and film director with the vision of cinema to produce a satisfying cinematic experience that transcends mere storytelling.

[link]

Buddhist nun and temple food aficionado invited to Berlin Film Festival

Jeong Kwan appeared in Netflix food documentary series “Chef’s Table”, discussing how temple food is eaten “to gain realization”

Jeong Kwan appeared in Netflix food documentary series “Chef’s Table”, discussing how temple food is eaten “to gain realization”

Feb.12,2017

A Buddhist nun who has led the push for the globalization of South Korean temple cuisine has earned an invitation to the Berlin International Film Festival.

Jeong Kwan, who appeared in an episode from Season 3 of the Netflix food documentary series
“Chef’s Table”, plans to depart for Germany on Feb. 11 after being invited to the “Culinary Cinema” section at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

Produced and overseen by food documentary director David Gelb, “Chef’s Table” reflects thoughts on the food-making process and cuisine made by six renowned chefs from around the world, including Jeong Kwan.

The documentary came about after Jeong Kwan appeared in 2015 on a cooking program by New York-based star chef Eric Ripert to show the essence of South Korean temple food. A New York Times Style Magazine reporter who observed a preview of the temple food at a New York restaurant run by Ripert wrote a piece titled “Jeong Kwan, the Philosopher Chef.” After seeing the article, Gelb requested the nun’s appearance on “Chef‘s Table.”

In May 2016, the producers stayed at Cheonjin Hermitage of Jangseong’s Baekyang Temple in South Jeolla Province for 15 days around the Buddha‘s Birthday holiday to record South Korea’s traditional Buddhist culture, with a focus on Jeong Kwan‘s temple food.

“I wanted to share how the entire process of preparing food for Buddha’s Birthday - which includes cleaning the ground of enlightenment, making and hanging the lotus lanterns, holding early morning Buddhist services, and preparing, cooking, and serving ingredients raised in the garden - is a form of practice and meditation in itself,” said Jeong Kwan.

“I wanted to emphasize that South Korea’s temple food isn’t just a meal, it’s food you eat to gain realization, and that I am not a chef but a practitioner of cultivation,” she added.
Jeong Kwan received her precepts as a novice nun in 1975 and as a bhikkhu in 1981. She served as chief nun at Hongnyeon Hermitage and Mangwol and Sinheung Temples before going to create a temple food education center at Baekyang Temple’s Cheonjin Hermitage, where she currently provides lectures and training.

By Kim Kyung-ae, senior staff writer

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

[link]

Buddhist Movie ‘Becoming Who I Was’ Picked Up by Bond/360

becoming-who-i-wasVariety
Leo Barraclough
Senior International Correspondent
@LeoBarraclough

FEBRUARY 16, 2017 | 07:05AM PT
Marc Schiller’s Bond/360, whose team were behind breakthrough films like “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” “Senna” and “The Imposter,” has acquired the exclusive U.S. and Canadian rights to Chang-Yong Moon’s Buddhist documentary film “Becoming Who I Was.”

The distributor, whose recent releases include “An Art that Nature Makes,” “Notes on Blindness” and “Strike a Pose,” will premiere the pic in New York City in the fall, followed by a nationwide release on Bond’s new Karma Cinema label, followed by a digital, educational and DVD release later in the year.

“The film follows Padma Angdu, who is no ordinary boy,” according to a statement. “In a past life he was a venerated Buddhist master. His village already treats him like a saint as a result. The village doctor, who has taken the boy under his wing, prepares him to be able to pass on his wisdom.”

Tibet, Angdu’s former homeland and the center of his faith, lies far away from his current home in the highlands of Northern India. On top of that, the conflict between China and Tibet makes the prospect of a trip there even more daunting.

“Undeterred by these harsh facts, the duo set off for their destination on foot, accompanied by questions of friendship and the nature of life.”

The documentary film, which was shot over a period of eight years, is “ultimately a story of unconditional love between a young boy and his guardian.” Continue reading

China to help KP preserve archaeological sites

Dawn
SADIA QASIM SHAH — PUBLISHED Feb 14, 2017 06:53am

PESHAWAR: The governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and China’s Shaanxi province on Monday joined hands for sustainable bilateral development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project by signing a memorandum of understanding to preserve cultural heritage that connects both the historic regions rich in archaeological sites.

Chief Archaeology at the Silk Route Research Institution of the Northwest University of China Prof Wang Jian Xin and director at Xian Centre Li Tao along with other delegation members signed the MoU with the KP Directorate of Archaeology and Museums during a simple ceremony filled with a friendly atmosphere of mutual understanding and love for archaeology and cultural heritage despite language barrier.

Li Tao translated the conversations between culture and archaeology secretary Mohammad Tariq and Prof Wang, who were on the same page regarding the preservation of cultural heritage of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with opportunities that have emerged with the CPEC project.

Secretary Mohammad Tariq appreciated the Chinese delegation’s willingness to help preserve KP’s intangible cultural heritage saying China itself has a high-tech National Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre in Beijing. Continue reading

Archaeological site in ruins

 The protected archaeological site of Rohanpur Octagonal Tomb in Gomostapur upazila under Chapainawabganj is getting ruined due to alleged negligence of the authorities concerned. Photo: RABIUL HASAN


The protected archaeological site of Rohanpur Octagonal Tomb in Gomostapur upazila under Chapainawabganj is getting ruined due to alleged negligence of the authorities concerned. Photo: RABIUL HASAN

The Daily Star
December 01, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 01, 2016

Rabiul Hasan
The protected archaeological site of Naoda Buruj in Gomostapur upazila under the district is getting encroached by illegal occupiers, thanks to the negligence of the authorities responsible for its maintenance and preservation.

Over fifty poor families from different areas have built houses at the site and people often dig soil and collect bricks from there, locals alleged.

The building, also locally known as Sar Buruj, now resembles a mound and there is a signboard set by the Department of Archaeology.

During a recent visit, this correspondent found a woman using the top of the mound for drying paddy while two antique black stones were seen lying on the soil.

Earlier on different times, locals found some antiques from the area and after being informed, officials of the archaeology department collected those from them, they said.

Mohammad Mojnu, a carpenter, said he built a house at the site and started living there with his family as he is a poor landless man.

Rice mill worker Razia Sultana and truck driver Johurul Islam are also among over 50 poor families who built houses around Naoda Buruj.

Atikur Rahman, teacher of Yousuf Ali College in Rohanpur, said the Department of Archaeology hung a signboard but they have hardly taken any initiative to preserve the site.

local land grabbers build several houses just beside Naoda Buruj, another archaeological site in the area. Photo: RABIUL HASAN

local land grabbers build several houses just beside Naoda Buruj, another archaeological site in the area. Photo: RABIUL HASAN

Continue reading

FOCUS ON THE INNER BUDDHA

t330_156054_1The Pioneer
Saturday, 03 December 2016 | Saritha Saraswathy Balan

Celebrating peace is the core of Nirvana, a performance choreographed in Odissi and Chhau by Aniruddha Das and Nibedita Mohapatra. By Saritha Saraswathy Balan

Nirvana, a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire nor sense of self, which is commonly called moksha (salvation), is what people have within them but fail to tap into. Nirvana is also about Yashodhara, the wife of Siddhartha Gautama, who did a supreme sacrifice after realising that the man she married was meant for the society and not just for her.

“People have illusions in their life. Many of them seek peace, not aware of the fact that it is there within themselves. Through Nirvana, we are trying to convey a message to look into yourself and find peace,” says dancer Aniruddha Das who along with Nibedita Mohapatra has choreographed a piece on the subject.

“Normally, choreography in classical dance forms is about Rama and Krishna. We decided to do something different. We attempted to answer the question that if Gautama, a prince, could leave earthly pleasures for propagating peace, then why couldn’t we start searching for it in ourselves,” he adds.

Nirvana was presented on the first day of the Natya Ballet Dance Festival on Thursday. About how effectively a message rooted in Buddhist philosophy, which is not followed by a majority, could be communicated to the audience, Aniruddha says that it is possible with visual art. “It is like watching a movie rather than listening to a lecture. We can create the world in visual art that will be played on stage. It could leave a lasting impact on the audience,” he adds.

Nibedita says that through their presentation, they’ve attempted to add a bit of contemporary element into classical dance. “We focussed on Yashodhara, for whom coping with the reality that her husband’s life was for the society was painful. Siddhartha left when his child, Rahul, was very young. Yashodhara didn’t give up and later became a bhikshuni, (a Buddhist nun). Discussion on Yasodhara’s life didn’t happen quite often as it did about Buddha. It’s similar to Lakshman and Urmila in Ramayana. An unknown sacrifice is there behind every great life. The balance in the society is maintained by a man-woman relationship, not solely by men,” Nibedita observes. She adds, “We searched for a poem to narrate Yashodhara’s life and finally we found Yashodhara: Six Seasons Without You by Subhash Jaireth.” Continue reading

Chinese archaeologists discover a 600-year-old Buddha statue underwater

1484747030_underwater-buddhaInternational Business Times
Aditya Aditya Bhat January 18, 2017 19:13 IST

Chinese archaeologists have discovered a 600-year-old Buddha statue, that was beneath the waters of a reservoir for years in China’s Jiangxi Province, on Sunday.

The statue, which is 3.8 meters tall, was carved into the cliff. Local villagers were the first to see it and Chinese underwater archaeologists got into the act, Xinhua reported.

The place might have housed a Buddhist temple as the archaeologists have found the foundation of a hall under the water.

Xu Changqing, head of the provincial research institute of archaeology, has said that the statue was carved during the time of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), based on the design Buddha’s head.

The statue was built to pray for the safety since boats were capsizing due to the flow of the river.

The Hongmen reservoir was built in 1958, and it is located on the ruins of the ancient Xiaoshi township, which was an important trade centre and a hub for water transportation. There is also a path to the north of the statue and an inscription to the south.

The statue of Buddha has re-emerged when water level in the reservoir came down by 10mts following a renovation project of a hydropower gate.

The water had protected and preserved the statue from interference of humans or from weakening due to time and climate. China destroyed several Buddhist temples and statues between between 1966 and 1976, during the cultural revolution.

People near the statue have come back to pray to their old protector.

[link]