Director Martin Scorsese is currently editing Silence, which Paramount may or may not release this year. A recent cut of the film reportedly ran 195 minutes, which I’m sure Scorsese is looking to whittle down. Last weekend a startling intuition of Scorsese’s thoughts about the film flew into my head. I don’t know if he’s shared the following with his Paramount partners, but he might eventually convey something along these lines:
“I’m sitting here in the editing room with Thelma and flipping through a copy of Entertainment Weekly‘s fall movie preview issue, and you know what what I’m noticing? Silence isn’t even mentioned. As far as EW is concerned it doesn’t exist. That tells me something.
“A while back I told Roger Friedman that ‘it’s up to Paramount’ about when Silence will be released, but I’m getting a feeling, just a little inkling of a tingle of the hairs on the back of my neck, that you guys might be quietly thinking about bumping it into February or March of 2017, like you did with Shutter Island in 2010.
“Is that what you guys are thinking? You haven’t ‘dated’ it yet, and I think it’s fair of me to ask what’s going on.
“I’m not the delusional type. I know a lot of people out there are going to regard Silence, sight unseen, as a very tough sit. A three-hour historical persecution-and-torture movie set in 17th Century Japan starring…what did that guy write the other day?…a weepy, whining, constantly suffering Andrew Garfield, and without much screen time for Liam Neeson, who doesn’t even get to go all whoop-ass on the 17th Century Japanese persecutors.
“You guys have three serious Oscar ponies on your fall slate — Arrival, Allied and especially Denzel’s Fences. I’m not stupid. I’m not clueless. I can read the writing on the wall. At best you may be considering a small token qualifying release for Silence, just to get it out there before 12.31…right?
“I realize that Silence is generating really doleful vibes, and that some people are concerned about the three-hour running time. I get it. From a distance it’s looking too grim and austere and hairshirty to warrant an awards-season campaign, especially at that length.
“I’m thinking of what Jesus said to God in the Garden of Gethsemane — ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.’ I think that’s what I may be saying to you guys right now. Take this Oscar campaign cup from me by pushing Silence into February or March of ’17. Spare us the pain of campaigning. Lift the burden from my shoulders and that of the film itself.
“I’ll be happier, Thelma will be happier, and Silence will definitely be happier.
“Don’t feel badly about this. Really. I’m at peace with a 2017 release. And if, on the other band, you want to open Silence at the tail end of ’16 so we can possibly land on a few best-of-the-year lists, that’s fine too. I’m easy either way.”