Yesterday’s post about an apparent decision by Paramount Pictures to open Martin Scorsese‘s Silence in 2016 (and possibly to debut it in Cannes next May) makes sense all around, and is hardly surpising. Wikipedia and the IMDB have been calling this a 2016 release all along. The only person who’s projected a late-2015 Silence release has been David Poland, to my knowledge. There were natural expectations that it would receive some kind of late-breaking award-season release, being a Scorsese film and all. But not if you look at the particulars.
Silence would be coming out at year’s end only if it was seen as some kind of natural award-season wowser (as The Wolf of Wall Street clearly was to anyone with half a brain), and I’m presuming this is not what the Paramount gang is detecting. Scorsese and his editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, may be close to finishing it for all I know, but I don’t believe that’s a key factor. The key factor is that Silence will almost certain be a “critic’s movie“, hence the possible Cannes scenario. Because everything I’ve read about Silence tells me that it’s dark and pained and weighed down with suffering. It may be beautifully made and contain a spiritual current that redeems or balances out the religious persecution stuff, but it doesn’t seem to be any kind of galvanizing, accessible film that will reach out and really touch people where they live.
From 1.31.14 post titled “Grimming Up For Silence“:
“I’ve never been that excited about Martin Scorsese‘s intention to direct an adaptation of Shusako Endo‘s ‘Silence,’ which is set in 16th Century Japan. I’m afraid it will be a kind of Christian Kundun. I’ve always had a basic aversion to all things Christian (at least since my early 20s) and I nod out every time I see a movie about historical Japan. Is Silence going to be a solemn downer with torture scenes? A melancholy tale of martyrdom? I only know that my insect antennae are picking up signals along these lines.”
As I understand it, Scorsese’s Silence is essentially about how, in 1614 (this is pasted from Seattle Pacific University’s Response website) “the shogun expelled all Christian missionaries and issued an edict requiring all Japanese to register as Buddhists. Hunted down by Japanese inquisitors, nearly 6,000 of the remaining Christians were tortured and killed. This horror began in 1587, when the Jesuits were ordered to depart. 10 years later 26 Christians, including six Franciscan missionaries, were crucified at Nagasaki. By 1603, when the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu unified the country, the persecution of Christians began in earnest.”
I don’t know precisely which aspect of this campaign of persecution is being focused on in Scorsese’s film, but I’m guessing it’s about the six Franciscans who were crucified in the late 1590s.
I endured pure cinematic agony watching Kundun, and I fully expect to experience a similar form of torture from Silence…apart from however tragic and beautiful and well acted it may turn out to be. I fully expect it will be quite rewarding from a technical/compositional viewpoint, being from a masterful filmmaker and all. Not to mention the metaphors that may apply to current examples of religious fanaticism .
Andrew Garfield (whose specialty, the SpiderMan films aside, seems to be playing guys who get fucked over and suffer and howl and endure the pains of hell…Never Let Me Go, Red Riding, The Social Network, 99 Homes), Liam Neeson (playing a fallen Jesuit priest named Ferreira), Tadanobu Asano and Adam Driver are costarring.