Next week Martin Scorsese will officially premiere his passion project which has been 27 years in the making. Silence is based on the 1966 novel of the same name written by Shūsaku Endō. It follows two young Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in order to locate their missing mentor who disappeared after committing apostasy. Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield star as the young priests, with Liam Neeson starring as their missing mentor.
The story takes place in 17th century Japan – a time when Christianity was banned with consequences of practising, both torturous and often ending in execution. With such heavy themes to portray, Scorsese made sure he had the best team on board for the job, using infamous historians and religious academics to assist him in his research. It wasn’t just Scorsese who committed to learning everything there was to know about the Japanese Christian persecution. Reverend James Martin was hired by Scorsese to act as a consultant to himself and the stars of the film. Rev. James Martin is himself a Jesuit priest and he took the actors to a seven day silent retreat at a Jesuit spiritual centre in North Wales as a way to have them connect with their characters.
The reason this film particularly interests me is everything that has gone into the building of it. 27 years. That’s a long time in both movie terms and real life terms. Scorsese will have changed so much in that 27 years, especially in his film influence, so I look forward to see how this translates during the film. Passion Projects are usually dismissed by critics and world-wide audiences alike, however when it comes to Martin Scorsese, expectations will of course be exceedingly high. He spoke to Deadline about the process and said
‘As you get older, ideas go and come. Questions, answers, loss of the answer again and more
questions, and this is what really interests me. Yes, the cinema and the people in my life and my
family are most important, but ultimately as you get older, there’s got to be more. Much, much
more. The very nature of secularism right now is really fascinating to me, but at the same time do
you wipe away what could be more enriching in your life, which is an appreciation or some sort of
search for that which is spiritual and transcends? That’s one of the reasons why I made the George
Harrison documentary. Silence is just something that I’m drawn to in that way. It’s been an
obsession, it has to be done… it’s a strong, wonderful true story, a thriller in a way, but it deals with
The film production has started and stopped multiple times for several reasons, mostly due to Scorsese’s other commitments (Shutter Island, The Wolf Of Wall Street and Hugo most notably, all three took the forefront to Silence) however it is finally close to it’s release which is set to be December 23rd. The premiere of the film will exclusively take place at The Vatican. Whilst Pope Francis is not set to attend the premiere, Scorsese and cast will be joined with nearly 400 priests at the Pontifical Oriental Institute for the Jesuit. There will be no red carpet, no best dressed and no glitz at the premiere but with staying in line with the films theme, it’s certainly an honoured choice. Other films that have premiered at the Vatican include ‘The Passion Of Christ’ ‘Spotlight’ ‘Unbroken’ and ‘Nativity Story.’
Adam Driver (my ultimate BAE) made his break in HBOs critically acclaimed TV show Girls written by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner. Adam was then soon to scoop up the highly coveted role of Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For him, the films themes of faith crisis and struggle were relatable in different ways. He used his own personal struggles to mirror those dealt within the story and took a more literal approach in terms of relating them. For example, he would reflect on all kinds of crisis – marriage, health, work. Andrew Garfield stars alongside Driver and he took a more direct approach into the preparation of his role by delving into the life of a Jesuit. They both took on courses to feel more connected to a Jesuit way of life but it was Andrew Garfield that seemed slightly more invested. Reverend Martin told the NY Times that
“Andrew [Garfield] got to the point where he could out-Jesuit a Jesuit…There were places in the
script where he would stop and say, ‘A Jesuit wouldn’t say that’, and we would come up with
As well as the 7 day silent retreat, Garfield was said to have undergone several intense exercises that came about in the 1520s and developed by the founder of the Jesuit order, St Ignatius. These ‘Spiritual Exercises’ included being able to use ones imagination to put themselves in the company of Jesus, at the bottom of the cross and even in hell. Garfield spoke of the experience to NY Times saying
“If I’d had 10 years, it wouldn’t have been enough to prepare for this role…I got totally swept up in
all things Jesuit and very taken with Jesuit spirituality. The preparation went on for nearly a year,
and by the time we got to Taiwan, it was bursting out of me.”
Adam Driver also physically changed a lot for the role by losing 51 pounds in four months. Adam has always been a beefy guy (thanks to his two and a half year stint in the US Marines) therefore to lose such weight in between filming Star Wars and Silence must have been stressful to say the least.
The film has already been tipped for the Oscar run and with exec producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff claiming that this could be Scorsese’s best work yet, it’s hard to not look forward to it. This will be the first film Scorsese has shot entirely in 35mm since Shutter Island and it has a run time of 159 minutes. Also starring alongside Driver, Garfield and Neeson will be Ciaran Hinds and Tadanobu Asano. Take a look at the trailer below!
[images courtesy of Paramount]