Martin Scorsese’s next directorial effort, Silence, began filming in Taiwan in early 2015, with a cast headed by Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) and upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens antagonist Adam Driver (also known for the HBO TV series Girls). Principal photography has now been completed on the project, which is why both Scorsese – who has been vying to make the movie for more than twenty-five years – and Garfield have spoken a bit about their collaboration to the press.
Silence, based on the 1966 novel written by Shûsaku Endô and adapted for the big screen by Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York), follows two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries (Garfield and Driver) who search for their mentor (Liam Neeson) in 17th century Japan. That setting is a time and place where the traveling priests face persecution for their religious beliefs – as do all native Christians – while the Japanese government is seeking to purge the country of western influences.
Garfield, speaking during a Taiwan press conference to mark the end of filming on Silence, offered the following insight about his character, Rodrigues, and his spiritual journey in Scorsese’s movie adaptation (hat tip to Collider):
It’s a lifetime that the character of Father Rodrigues goes through that we witness. It’s such an agonizing lifetime that he has to live through and yet he wrestles with the greatest and most important and difficult questions that we all wrestle with, which is how to live and how does one live a life of meaning, a life of faith, and does that require you to live in doubt as well? That’s just scratching the surface of why I felt drawn to this story and this character.
Pictured in the first official Silence still is Garfield as Rodrigues opposite Japanese actor Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, the Iron Man; Ichi the Killer) as a villager named Mokchi. You can check out that photo, below (via EW).
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Religious themes and symbolism have been present in much of Scorsese’s cinematic work throughout his career as a director – sometimes, more explicitly than in other cases, of course (see: The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, etc.). However, arguably the last handful of Scorsese production have ventured into different territories, both thematically and with regard to genre (Shutter Island, Hugo, The Wolf of Wall Street) – making Silence something of a return to Scorsese’s earlier interests, as a storyteller.
Silence also takes place far away from the urban jungle settings depicted in so many of Scorsese’s past movies, be they historical (Gangs of New York) or modern (The Departed) in nature. The director commented on just that, during the recent Taiwan press conference:
I’m known for making films that are urban, that take place mainly in apartments, hotels, bars, churches, that sort of thing, for the most part, so for me to be able to sit and watch a scene and hear the nature around me, the bird calls, the animals, which set the time, which set the clock of life in a way, the real pace of life, not the crazy one with all our gadgets, this has been an immersion into another world and it’s something that I’m just blessed to have experienced.
Scorsese’s Silence adaptation, like all of his films in recent memory, features a strong main cast and equally reputable supporting players – with a roster that includes Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones) and Tadanobu Asano (Thor: The Dark World), as well as seasoned Japanese actors such as Yoshi Oida and Issei Ogata. Silence also features most of the usual suspects known for making Scorsese movies (see: legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker) and reunites the director with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, after their work together on The Wolf of Wall Street.
In short: many film buffs are no doubt already looking forward to seeing this flick.
Silence is expected to reach U.S. theaters in 2016.