SOMETIMES SILENCE IS THE DEADLIEST SOUND.
In the 17th century, two young Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) arrive in Japan to learn what happened to a senior colleague (Liam Neeson) who renounced his faith. A dream project for Martin Scorsese who spent many years trying to get it off the ground, it is a religiously themed film in the vein of The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Set during a time in Japan’s history when Christianity was violently suppressed, this long, intellectually demanding film asks difficult questions about the sacrifices that might come with one’s beliefs. Taiwanese locations are put to great use and there are many striking scenes, including that haunting finale.
2016-U.S.-Taiwan-Mexico-Britain-Italy-Japan. 161 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Barbara De Fina, Randall Emmett, David Lee, Gastón Pavlovich, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Screenplay: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese. Novel: Shusaku Endo. Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto. Cast: Andrew Garfield (Sebastiao Rodrigues), Adam Driver (Francisco Garupe), Liam Neeson (Cristovao Ferreira), Ciarán Hinds, Tadanobu Asano, Shinya Tsukamoto.
Trivia: At one point, Daniel Day-Lewis was going to play Ferreira. The novel was previously filmed in Japan as Silence (1971).
Last word: “Eventually I was able to feel I understood enough of the novel to be able to make another attempt at writing it with Jay Cocks. That was in 2006. By that point, the legal matters, chain of title, and ownership issues were very complicated. Some of the people involved in Italy had been incarcerated. Money had already been spent on the picture by producers, and I never really had the script finished, because I just didn’t know how to do it. I was constantly being asked by my managers and my agents: ‘Do you want to keep going with this project? Because it’s such a convoluted mess now.’ [Producer] Irwin Winkler finally strategized everything, and then [producer] Emma Tillinger Koskoff came into it, and her job was to get that budget down.” (Scorsese, Film Comment)