Saturday, February 18, 2017


Silence. The crucifixion of Tomogi villagers (actors including the great Yoshi Oida as Ichizo, and the director of the Tetsuo films, Shinya Tsukamoto, as Mokichi). Please click to enlarge the images.

Silence. Yoshi Oida as Ichizo.

Silence. Shinya Tsukamoto as Mokichi.

US/TW/MX © 2016 FM Films, LLC. PC: Cappa Defina Productions / CatchPlay / Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films (EFO Films) / Fábrica de Cine / SharpSword Films / Sikelia Productions / Verdi Productions / Waypoint Entertainment. P: Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Barbara De Fina, Randall Emmett, David Lee, Gastón Pavlovich, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler. D: Martin Scorsese. SC: Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese ‒ based on the novel Chinmoku (1966) by Shusaku Endo ‒ translated from Japanese into Finnish as Vaitiolo by Vappu Kataja / SLEY-Kirjat (1980). CIN: Rodrigo Prieto ‒ negative: 35 mm, Codex ARRIRAW 2,8K ‒ source format: Master Scope (anamorphic) ‒ master format: Digital Intermediate 4K ‒ lab: EFilm (digital intermediate) ‒ Fujicolor ‒ scope 2,35. PD+cost: Dante Ferretti. AD: Wen-Ying Huang. Set dec: Francesca Lo Schiavo. Makeup: Noriko Watanabe. SFX: R. Bruce Steinheimer. VFX+AN: Industrial Light and Magic. Additional VFX: BaseFX, Rodeo FX, Post Mango. M consultants: Kim Allen Kluge, Kathryn Kluge (see soundtrack listing beyond the jump break). S: Philip Stockton.
ED: Thelma Schoonmaker. Casting: Ellen Lewis.
C from Wikipedia:
    Andrew Garfield as Sebastião Rodrigues
    Adam Driver as Francisco Garupe
    Liam Neeson as Father Cristóvão Ferreira
    Tadanobu Asano as The Interpreter
    Ciarán Hinds as Father Alessandro Valignano
    Issey Ogata as Inoue Masashige
    Shinya Tsukamoto as Mokichi
    Yoshi Oida as Ichizo
    Yōsuke Kubozuka as Kichijiro
    Nana Komatsu as Mónica (Haru)
    Ryo Kase as João (Chokichi)
    Béla Baptiste as Dieter Albrecht
El Greco painting: from La Verónica (1582).
    Loc: Taiwan, Macau. Studio: CMPC Studio (Taipei City). Languages: English, Japanese, Latin. 161 min
    2K DCP released in Finland by Future Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Marko Pyhähuhta / Heidi Nyblom Kuorikoski (Saga Vera Oy), day of Finnish premiere 17 Feb 2017.
    Viewed at Kinopalatsi 7, Helsinki, 18 Feb 2017.

Synopsis from Wikipedia: "At St. Paul's College, Macau, an Italian Jesuit priest, Alessandro Valignano receives news that Father Cristóvão Ferreira, a Portuguese Jesuit in Japan, renounced his faith after being tortured. Ferreira's young pupils, also Portuguese, Fathers Sebastião Rodrigues and Francisco Garupe, set off in disbelief to find him. Kichijiro, an alcoholic fisherman who fled Japan (later revealed to be a Christian who renounced his faith to save himself), agrees to guide them. At the Japanese village of Tomogi, the priests are surprised to find local Christian populations driven underground. They eagerly welcome the priests, who administer long-awaited sacraments to them. A samurai searching for suspected Christians, whom the villagers refer to as "the inquisitor", straps some of the villagers to wooden crosses on the beach and places them in the ocean, where the tide eventually kills them. The bodies are then cremated on a funeral pyre so that they cannot be given a Christian burial."

"Garupe leaves for Hirado Island, believing that their presence forces the shogunate to terrorize the village. Rodrigues goes to Gotō Island, the last place Ferreira lived, only to find it destroyed. Wandering around Gotō, he struggles over whether it is self-centered and unmerciful to refuse to recant when doing so will end others' suffering. He eventually reunites with Kichijiro, who betrays him into the hands of the samurai. An old samurai, who had earlier accompanied the inquisitor to Tomogi, tells Rodrigues that other captured Christians will suffer unless he commits apostasy."

"Rodrigues is taken to Nagasaki, where he is imprisoned with the captured Christians from Gotō. At a tribunal, he is told Catholic doctrine is anathema to Japan. Rodrigues demands to see governor Inoue Masashige, who he learns to his dismay is the old samurai. Rodrigues is returned to prison, and Kichijiro arrives. He explains that court officials threatened him to give up Rodrigues, then says he is a Christian and asks to be imprisoned to be absolved of his betrayal through a confession, which Rodrigues reluctantly grants him. He later is released after agreeing again to step on a fumi-e (a crudely carved image of Christ), an act symbolizing rejection of the faith. Rodrigues is brought to witness a famished Garupe, and three other prisoners (who have apostatized) about to be drowned. Garupe refuses to apostasize, and the prisoners are drowned, with Garupe drowning trying to rescue one of the prisoners."

"Later, Rodrigues is taken to a Buddhist temple where he meets Ferreira, who now goes by the name Sawano Chūan. Ferreira says he committed apostasy while being tortured, and states that after 15 years in the country and a year in the temple, he believes Christianity is a lost cause in Japan. He now also believes humans find their original nature in Japan and that perhaps this is what is meant by finding God. Rodrigues calls him a disgrace, but Ferreira is unmoved. That night in his prison cell, Rodrigues hears five Christians being tortured. Ferreira tells him that they have already apostasized; it is his apostasy the Japanese demand to save them. As Rodrigues looks upon a fumi-e, he hears the voice of Christ giving him permission to step on it, and he does."

"A year later, Ferreira and Rodrigues sort through religious iconography gathered from suspected Christians. Watching all of this is Dutch trader Dieter Albrecht, who narrates his observations of the fallen priests. Albrecht states in his journal that Ferreira eventually died, and that a now-married Rodrigues goes by the name Okada San'emon. Kichijiro, now a servant, asks Rodrigues for forgiveness, but Rodrigues refuses, saying he is no longer a priest. Kichijiro later is caught with a religious amulet he claims to have won while gambling, but never bothered to look inside the pouch. He is taken away and never heard from again."

"Many years later, Rodrigues has died. He is placed in a large round wooden casket, and his body is cremated. In his hand is a tiny crudely-made crucifix that was given to him when he first came to Japan.
" - Synopsis from Wikipedia

AA: Silence is a labour of love for Martin Scorsese in a similar way as The Fugitive was for John Ford. The Fugitive was based on the novel The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. Shusako Endo, the Japanese Christian writer of the novel on which Scorsese's film is based, was highly admired by Greene.

The novel and the film are based on a true story, and their historical background is in the arrival of Christianity into Japan from the mid-16th century to the mid-17th century. Missionaries from four countries introduced Christianity into Japan, for decades they were welcome, and by 1600, there were 200.000-300.000 Christians in Japan. They were true believers, but the countries that sent them had huge trade interests, and they were all colonial powers. Japan's Edict of Expulsion in 1614 led to a period of persecution of Christians, and the missionaries went underground, including Father Cristóvão Ferreira, who was captured and in 1633 renounced his faith and became a Buddhist. Japan's borders were closed to the West for 200 years.

Silence the film is set in the year 1643 and tells the story of two followers of Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson): Father Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver). It is a story of a harrowing spiritual ordeal shot in breathtaking seashore landscapes.

The physical production is impeccable and magnificent. The work by the cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and the production and wardrobe designer Dante Ferretti is marvellous. But that is all just a framework for a spiritual journey. The spiritual debates of the film are profound and engaging. For Scorsese, who has also written a foreword to an edition of Shusako Endo's book, the story is about believing and questioning. To believe or not to believe. Faith and disbelief. "From certainty to doubt to loneliness to communion".

I have not seen Chinmoku, the previous film adaptation of Shusako Endo's book, directed in Japan in 1971 by Masahiro Shinoda. But I have seen Nagisa Oshima's powerful jidai-geki epic Shiro Amakusa: The Christian Rebel (1962) about the same period (Oshima's film is set in 1637), a shattering account about the fight led by Shiro Amakusa against gross injustice and oppression. Scorsese's viewpoint is with the Portuguese missionaries, but both Oshima and Scorsese share a compassion for the exploited farmers who seek solace in Christianity and its message of love against tyranny.

Silence is essential viewing for anyone who loves Martin Scorsese or Christianity. The ethical question faced by the missionaries is extreme. Should one renounce faith in order to save human lives? For me all answers would be justified since in conditions of torture no confession is valid.

The greatest thinkers of mankind ‒ such as Socrates, Cicero, Jesus, and Seneca ‒ have sacrificed their lives by telling the truth. But it is a different matter, an impossible equation, to sacrifice lives of others.

Martin Scorsese is a versatile director, and he can be compelling in many kinds of films, including Italianamerican, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, King of Comedy, After Hours, Life Lessons, and A Letter to Elia. His film and music historical documentaries are priceless, and I value his film historical fiction (The Aviator, Hugo). Scorsese has a special interest in gangster films and religious films, and the results are distinguished, but there is something studied in them. One thing in common to Scorsese's gangster films and Christian films is an emphasis on sadism which I find puzzling.

Like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese is at his best in contemporary stories, and not quite as unforgettable in period tales, no matter how impeccably they are produced.

I understand the commercial coup of having Andrew Garfield star in Silence, but his performance is lacking in conviction.

Shot on 35 mm photochemical film Silence has been beautifully mastered in digital. The cinematography of Silence is worthy of the great tradition of religious visual art.



Martin Scorsese’s Silence, the Academy Award winning director’s long anticipated film about faith and religion, tells the story of two 17th century Portuguese missionaries who undertake a perilous journey to Japan to search for their missing mentor, Father Christavao Ferreira, and to spread the gospel of Christianity.

Scorsese directs Silence from a screenplay he wrote with Jay Cocks. The film, based on Shusaku Endo’s 1966 award-winning novel, examines the spiritual and religious question of God’s silence in the face of human suffering.

Martin Scorsese and Emma Koskoff and Irwin Winkler produce alongside Randall Emmett, Barbara De Fina, Gastón Pavlovich, and Vittorio Cecchi Gori with executive producers Dale A. Brown, Matthew J. Malek, Manu Gargi, Ken Kao, Dan Kao, Niels Juul, Chad A. Verdi, Gianni Nunnari, Len Blavatnik and Aviv Giladi.

Silence stars Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider Man, Hacksaw Ridge), Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Paterson) and Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Taken). The film follows the young missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Driver) as they search for their missing teacher and mentor and minister to the Christian villagers they encounter who are forced to worship in secret.

At that time in Japan, feudal lords and ruling Samurai were determined to eradicate Christianity in their midst; Christians were persecuted and tortured, forced to apostatize, that is, renounce their faith or face a prolonged and agonizing death.

Scorsese is joined on Silence by many recent and longtime collaborators, including Academy Award Nominated Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto (The Wolf of Wall Street), three-time Academy Award winning production designer Dante Ferretti (Hugo), three-time Oscar winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker (The Wolf of Wall Street), executive music producer Robbie Roberston (The Wolf of Wall Street), and casting director Ellen Lewis (The Wolf of Wall Street). Kim Allen Kluge and Kathryn Kluge are the composers for the film.

Co-starring in Silence is an international ensemble cast featuring Ciarán Hinds (Munich) and some of Japan’s best-known actors including Tadanobu Asano, Issey Ogata, Shinya Tsukamoto, Yoshi Oida Yosuke Kubozuka, Ryo Kase, and Nana Komatsu.

About the production

In 1988, at a special screening in New York for the city’s religious leaders of his latest film The Last Temptation of Christ, Martin Scorsese made the acquaintance of Archbishop Paul Moore. At the event Moore, who was nearing the end of his tenure as the Episcopal Bishop of New York, presented the director with a copy of Shusaku Endo’s historical novel Silence. Silence had been published in Japan in 1966 where it was highly praised, the subject at the time of the most intense, thorough and rigorous analysis. When an English edition of the book appeared some years later, the novel’s reputation as a profound examination of, and meditation upon, religious themes was further enhanced. The first time he read the book, Silence made a huge impression on Martin Scorsese – it seemed to speak to him personally.

“The subject matter presented by Endo in his book has been in my life since I was very, very young, “Scorsese says. “I was raised in a strong Catholic family and was very much involved in religion. The bedrock I still have is the spirituality of Roman Catholicism I was immersed in as a child, spirituality that had to do with faith.”

Scorsese says that while reading the book he was astonished to discover it confronted the very deep and profound issues about Christianity that, as he puts it, “I still cope with constantly.

“At this time in my life I continually think about -- wonder about -- faith and doubt, weakness, and the human condition, and these are the very themes that Endo’s book touches upon in a such a direct way.”

The Novel

From the first time he read Silence, Scorsese was determined to make a movie of the book. Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence (Chinmoku), set in Japan in the era of Kakase Kirishitan (the ‘hidden Christians”), has been hailed as a supreme literary achievement and described by critics as one of the twentieth century’s finest novels. Published in 1966, Silence received Japan’s prestigious Tanazaki Prize. It was translated into English in 1969, and since appeared in various languages throughout the world.

Silence became an instant bestseller in Japan, having sold over 800,000 copies. It takes as its starting off point an historical Church scandal that had wide reverberations–the defection in Japan of a Jesuit Superior, Father Christovao Ferreira, who renounced his religion, became a Buddhist scholar and took a Japanese wife.

Jesuits, members of the Society of Jesus, today form the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. Historically engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry, Jesuits are committed to doing good works in education (founding schools and universities), intellectual research, cultural pursuits, human rights and social justice. Ignatius Loyola founded the order in the 1530s and composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier and their followers took vows of chastity, poverty and obedience to the Pope.

In Endo’s novel, two of Father Chistavao Ferreira’s students, Father Sebastian Rodrigues and Father Francsico Garupe, travel from Portugal to the Jesuit University in Macao and then Japan where they place themselves in great danger searching for the truth about Ferreira’s mysterious defection as they minister to the faithful in Japan, the hidden Christians who worship and practice their faith in fear for their lives.

Endo, one of the few Japanese authors to write from a Christian point of view, was born in Tokyo in 1923. He was raised in Kobe by his mother and an aunt, and baptized into the Church at age 11. His university studies were interrupted by the Second World War, and he worked for a time in a munitions factory. After the war, he studied medicine and moved to France. Throughout his life, Endo struggled with severe respiratory ailments, including tuberculosis, and endured long periods of hospitalization.

Endo began writing novels in 1958, almost all concerned with Christian themes, including A Life of Jesus, inviting comparison between him and Christian writers in the west, notably Graham Greene. Most of Endo’s characters struggle with complex, moral dilemmas, and their choices often lead to mixed or tragic results. Graham Greene called Endo “one of the finest writers alive.”

Silence is considered Endo’s masterpiece and has been the subject of intense analysis and debate in the years since publication. Garry Wills, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian, compares Silence to Greene’s The Power and The Glory. He writes that whereas Graham’s hero “maintains a priestly ministry despite his own unworthiness…Endo explores a more interesting paradox. His priest defects, not from weakness but from love, to spare Christian converts the persecution mounted against them.”

Endo himself believed the book’s great appeal in his own country among Japanese leftist students was that they saw in the story of Rodrigues’s struggles with the Samurai the more recent struggles of the Japanese Marxists of the 1930s who were tortured by Japanese authorities and forced to commit ‘tenko’ – an ideological ‘about face’ or conversion.

Silence has recently been called a novel of our time. Paul Elie writing in the New York Times Sunday magazine says, “It locates in the missionary past so many of the religious matters that vex us in the post-secular moment – the claims to universal truths in diverse societies, the conflict between a profession of faith and the expression of it, and the seeming silence of God while believers are draw into violence on his behalf.”

The relevance of Silence continues to reverberate.


Scorsese’s great regard for Silence increased with further readings. As he had already begun working on a screen adaptation with his writing collaborator Jay Cocks in the late 1980s, he planned it as his next film project.

Fate, however, had a different scenario in store.

To begin with Scorsese says, “I wasn’t happy with the draft we came up with.” He also encountered other problems, he says, not the least of which was finding the funding for such an undertaking, and so he put the screenplay aside.

In the ensuing years, however, the director spent a great deal of time pondering the book’s themes and characters, continuing to work off on and off with Cocks on subsequent drafts of their screenplay. Overall it took more than fifteen years for the duo to complete what they both felt was a successful and workable script, one that incorporated and gave expression and life to the novel’s deepest and most profound meanings.

A forward Scorsese penned for a 2007 English edition of the novel gives insight into not only what these themes mean for the director but also a sense of what Scorsese’s film of the book would express.

Scorsese wrote, “Christianity is based on faith but if you study its history you see that it’s had to adapt itself over and over again, always with great difficulty, in order that faith might flourish. That’s a paradox, and it can be an extremely painful one: on the face of it believing and questioning are antithetical. Yet I believe they go hand in hand. One nourishes the other. Questioning may lead to great loneliness but if it co-exists with faith – true faith, abiding faith – it can end in the most joyful sense of communion. It’s this painful paradoxical passage – from certainty to doubt to loneliness to communion that Endo understands so well.

“Sebastian Rodrigues (the central character) represents what you might call ‘the best and the brightest of the Catholic faith.”

Scorsese labels him a ‘man of the church’ as described in Bernanos’s Diary of a Country Priest and writes that “Rodrigues would most certainly have been one of those men, stalwart, unbending in his will and resolve, unshakeable in his faith—if he had stayed in Portugal, that is.

“Instead he is placed in the middle of another, hostile culture during a late stage in a protracted effort to rid itself of Christianity. Rodrigues believes with all his heart he will be the hero of a Western story that we all know very well: the Christian allegory, a Christ figure, with his own Gesthemane –a patch of wood-- and his own Judas, a miserable wretch named Kichijiro.”

Indeed Judas, who Scorsese calls Christianity’s greatest villain, embodies what the filmmaker refers to one of the most pressing dilemmas in all Christian theology.

“What is Judas’s role?” he writes. “What is expected of him by Christ? What is expected of him by us today?”…. Endo looks at the problem of Judas more directly than any other artist I know.”

This problem infuses Silence, and determines Father Rodrigues’ fate.

As Scorsese writes, “…. slowly, masterfully, Endo reverses the tide [for Rodriques]. Silence is the story of a man who learns –so painfully—that God’s love is more mysterious than he knows, that He leaves much more to the ways of men that we realize, and that He is always present…even in His silence.

“I picked up this novel for the first time almost twenty years ago. I’ve reread it countless times since… It has given me a kind of sustenance that I have found in only a very few works of art.”


With a screenplay finally completed to his satisfaction after so many years, Scorsese, Koskoff, and Winkler stepped up efforts to secure financing for the project. Scorsese and Koskoff also began to grapple with casting and location issues: who would be the perfect actor to play the all-important role of Father Rodrigues? How to find Japanese actors for other crucial roles? And where to make the film? None of these issues would be resolved quickly or easily.

Finding financing for a serious, character-driven film dealing with profound religious and philosophical issues in today’s worldwide film market was a daunting challenge.

“This project has so much meaning for Marty, it’s so personal for him that it became personal for me as well,” says Koskoff who is Scorsese’s producing partner and President of Production at his company, Sikelia. “I was determined to get the film made and I wasn’t going to rest until that was achieved. Every possible avenue—I pursued them all.”

After a series of postponements, Scorsese, Koskoff and Winkler finally met with success. With the release of Scorsese’s hugely popular and commercially successful The Wolf of Wall Street, the principal financiers to come on board the film were Fabrica de Cine and Len Blavatnik’s AI Films with assistance from SharpSword Films and IM Global.

Fabrica de Cine, headed by Gaston Pavlovich, co-produced and co-financed the Tom Hanks drama A Hologram for a King and Richard Gere’s Oppenheimer Strategies. Len Blavatnik’s AI Films has financed or co-financed Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Bill Condon’s Mr. Holmes and Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge.

SharpSword Films is backed by Dale Brown and participated in the financing of The Ticket, starring Dan Stevens, Malin Akerman and Oliver Platt.

IM Global is one of the world’s leading international film and television production, sales and distribution platforms and is currently a co-financing partner on Hacksaw Ridge directed by Mel Gibson and Gary Ross’ Free State of Jones.


Even before the means to make the film became available, in 2008 and 2009, as various ways were being explored to secure financing, Scorsese, Koskoff and key members of the director’s creative team began to scout locations for a proposed production. Understanding that it would be prohibitively expensive to make the film in Japan, the filmmakers scouted New Zealand, Canada and other various locations in search of places to shoot the story on a more economically feasible basis, eventually finding the perfect locations in Taiwan.

While discussing the possibility of shooting in Taiwan, Scorsese and Koskoff reached out director Ang Lee, who has extensive experience shooting in the country. Mr. Lee and his collaborators, particularly David Lee, were integral to helping get the film made in Taiwan.

For her part, as she had done with other possible locations, Koskoff, made several trips to Taiwan traveling across length and breadth of the country with an eye towards shooting there.

“I traveled to Taiwan so many times that I can safely say I’ve been to every corner of the country scouting locations throughout the cities and the countryside. I also met with scores of people,” Koskoff says. “I understood that because of the diversity of the landscape and terrain, because of the talents of the people, and because of the filmmaking facilities available in Taipei, we had finally found the place in which to shoot Silence. In fact, I became convinced that this country was the only place in which the film could be made, that Silence had found the perfect location in which to  recreate 17th century Japan.”

Scorsese concurs. “We looked at many different spots around the world, and we finally settled on Taiwan because the landscape was geographically close, the climate was similar, and the landscapes in the mountains and by the sea gave us just what we needed.”


With so many essential elements falling in place, the process of casting, which had been temporarily put on hold, moved ahead in earnest. The main priority was clear – filling the role of Father Rodrigues.

“The actor who would play Rodrigues had to have the ability and understanding to deal with the complex issues that inform the character,” Scorsese says.

“I understood also that we had to find someone who would want to play the part. Over the years I had seen many actors. Some said right off the bat they had no interest in the subject and that was that.”

Over the years Scorsese had encountered many young actors who were fascinated by the material and the story, and he considered several for the role. As time went by, however, and the film failed to move forward, these actors became too old. Rodrigues is young man in his twenties.

Stepping up the search with a production start date looming, Scorsese auditioned several young actors, when lighting struck in the person of Andrew Garfield. Fresh off his Tony-nominated triumph on Broadway in Mike Nichols’ production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” as well as his stint as The Amazing Spider-Man, Garfield seemed like Rodrigues incarnate to the director.

“Andrew is the right age, but more importantly he as the ability to handle the role. And he cares. Frankly, he’s a god-send,” Scorsese says. Garfield was primed for the assignment.

“How can you say ‘No’ when Martin Scorsese calls” the actor says. “Who would want to? It’s so rare and I never expected such an opportunity.” Delighted as he was to land the role, the actor understood the depth of the challenge.

“The story confronts such deep and difficult material, timeless, huge in scope, huge in emotion,” Garfield says. “It’s a lifetime the character goes through that we witness. He wrestles with the great and most important questions we all wrestle with – how to live a meaningful life, a life of faith, and does that require you to live in doubt as well. That’s just scratching the surface of why I was attracted to this story and this character.”

As Rodrigues’ fellow priest Father Garupe, Scorsese cast another charismatic, upand coming young actor, Adam Driver. Well-known for his role in the HBO series Girls, and for film appearances such as Inside Llewyn Davis and the latest Star Wars installment The Force Awakens, Driver stars in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson. Driver, too, was intrigued and challenged by the story and excited for the chance to work with Scorsese.

To prepare he immersed himself in Endo’s book as well as in Scorsese and Cocks’ script. “I was really taken by the idea of a crisis of faith which is always universal, and always relevant,” Driver says. The individual characteristics of the two young men, Father Rodrigues, and Father Garupe, Driver’s character, also appealed to the actor.

“I liked that they were disgruntled guys, and questioning, which is a big part of faith. I thought of St. Peter. Doubt is healthy – it relates to everything, to acting even. Is this the right way to make a living? Is this part right? Do I want to be with these people? Am I just bad in the role? Anything creative leads to doubt. Relationships, between parents and children are filled with doubt.”

Driver was also attracted to what he calls the atypical representation of priests in the story.

“You think of priests as calm and rational. But these Jesuits were pioneers, rough and hard. They had to be durable. Conditions were harsh in that period. These men were rough, not polished, not how we think of priests today. I think of them as explorers.”

Two major Irish-born actors, the versatile and celebrated Liam Neeson whose popularity has increased over the years with performances in the action series Taken, and the distinguished stage and screen player Ciaran Hinds were also signed for key roles.

Neeson, who plays the all-important Father Ferreria and who was Oscar nominated for Schindler’s List, appeared as Priest Vallon fifteen years ago in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. He was delighted for the opportunity of being reunited with the director.

“Working with Marty is a joy and an education in creative filmmaking,” Neeson says. “But one of the most exciting things about this story that appeals to me is its relevance. Some of the very things described in the novel and the screenplay in great and terrible detail are actually occurring in the world today. I think Silence will be a film everyone will want to see.”

Of Silence’s themes, Neeson says, “I’ve been intrigued by the Jesuits for 30 years, ever since I did research for another movie in the 1980s, The Mission. The technical adviser for that film was Father Daniel Berrigan who became a great pal. He had a big effect on my life in regard to the history of the Jesuits, especially St. Ignatius and St. Francis.”

As for Silence’s screenplay, Neeson says, “I was hooked by the script as soon as I read it. It’s spare. Jay Cocks and Marty never write a paragraph when a sentence will do. And that sentence will have texture and subtext.”

The character of Father Ferreira also took hold of him.

“I wondered how this man, an historical personage, a man of great learning, steeped in the church and embedded in the Jesuit culture, could actually rescind his religion and become an embarrassment to the church.”

Ciarin Hinds (Munich) who appears as Father Valignano, head of the Jesuit University in Macao, echoes Neeson’s enthusiasm.

“It’s not every day that you get to appear in such a thought-provoking but heartfelt story, one being made by a great director. This is a special assignment for me,” Hinds says.

Scorsese, whose ability to elicit great work from his actors is legendary, expressed tremendous appreciation for his principal cast.

“First of all, I needed great actors,” the director says. “I know that sounds simple, but it’s true—the material is extremely complex, the world in which the story unfolds is unknown to most of us here in the west, and I needed actors who could absorb it all and dive in and bring it to life. I needed adventurers, and I use that term in the physical and emotional senses.

“With Liam and Ciarán, I needed people with a certain gravity, people who understood stillness and…silence. Every second that they were on screen had to count, and they needed to provide a contrast to Andrew and Adam, whose characters are younger, thinner, more impulsive. I also needed the audience to see that contrast visually: the thin, angular faces of the two younger actors, who move quickly, in contrast to the older, more becalmed, physically grounded actors. That was the idea, and that’s what the four of them bring to the picture.”

Equally important to the story of Silence as the four Portuguese Jesuits are the Japanese characters, the devout Christian villagers as well as their Samurai tormentors. As early as 2007, Scorsese and his casting director Ellen Lewis traveled to Japan where they met with some of the best-known actors in that country, many of whom are stars in their native land.

“I made three trips in all to Japan,” Lewis says. “It was very inspiring. I could tell right away that we were going to be okay because all the actors were so good. Even if the English they spoke wasn’t perfect, we could tell they understood the intention of the scene they were reading, and that was so moving and exciting.”

For the important role of the wily and treacherous Interpreter, Scorsese cast Tadanobu Asano. The director was familiar with Asano’s work from the film Mongol in which he appeared as Ghengis Khan. US audiences will recognize him from Battleship and Thor.

Issey Ogata, a versatile stage and film performer who played the Emperor Hirohito in Aleksandr Sokurov’s The Sun was given the key role of Inoue, the elderly but widely feared Inquisitor whose barbaric policies spread terror throughout the country’s ‘hidden’ Christian communities.

One of Japan’s brightest young stars, Yosuke Kubozuka was signed for the role of the complex and devious Kichijiro, the priests’ sometime guide and nemesis, and Yoshi Oida who lives in France and has worked with the great theater director Peter Brook plays Ichizo, the Tomogi village elder whose faith and devotion inspire Rodrigues and Garupe. And the highly-respected actor/director Shinya Tsukamoto was cast as Mokichi, another sincere and devout Tomogi villager.

Scorsese recalls he was stunned when he heard that Shinya Tsukamoto was coming in to audition.

‘’What?” I said. ‘What are you taking about? The great director is coming in to audition?!’ I was so surprised – I couldn’t believe it. Shinya is a true auteur whose films inspire me, Tetsuo, Iron Man and Snakes of June.”

Tsukamoto was honored just to audition for the man he considers a supreme master of cinema.

“I would have been an extra for Mr. Scorsese,” he says.

Scorsese is unstinting in his praise of his Japanese cast.

“The Japanese actors are remarkable. Meeting them, working with them is a revelation. Their range, the depth of their talents is astonishing.”

Concurrent with the completion of the casting process, the creative crew for the film was assembled. Several of the director’s longtime collaborators came on board, including director of photography Rodrigo Prieto (The Wolf of Wall Street) and threetime Academy Award winning production designer Dante Ferretti (Hugo). On Silence Ferretti was charged with creating the costumes for the film as well as the sets, a dual assignment he had carried out Scorsese’s Kundun.

And three-time Oscar winner Thelma Schoonmaker (The Departed), Scorsese’s editor for over forty years who has edited all of his features since Raging Bull, also took her position on the team. For Schoonmaker, finally get a chance to work with Scorsese on his long-cherished dream of filming this book, was a thrill and a great honor


Filming on Silence began January 31, 2015 in Taipei, Taiwan at the city’s CMPC film studio where production designer Ferretti had created a historical rendering of a section of the Portuguese colony Macao and the Jesuit University there. Because of his desire to shoot as much as possible in chronological order, Scorsese filmed first two sequences that set the story in motion: Father Rodrigues (Garfield) in his chamber contemplating the news of Father Ferreira’s disappearance; and the Fathers Rodrigues and Garupe (Driver) imploring their superior Father Valignano (Hinds) to send them to Japan to search for the missing priest.

Scenes depicting the Macao waterfront where Valignano blesses the departing young priests as they make their way to Japan in a Chinese junk were filmed along with a sequence in a Macao tavern where the Fathers first meet Kichijiro (Kubozuka), the Japanese wretch who says he is a lapsed Christian and who will accompany the priests on their journey to Japan as a guide.

Studio work completed for the time being, the unit traveled to a location an hour outside Taipei to the surrounding mountain area of Jinguashi to film the sequence that takes place outside the so-called charcoal hut, the tiny abode to which the priests are spirited by Christian villagers when they first arrive in Japan.

This sequence having been filmed, the unit then moved to the neighboring mountain area of Tsenguanliaw, also an hour outside the city, where production designer Ferretti had constructed Tomogi village, home of the secret community of devout and faithful Japanese Christians. Here the impoverished villagers practice their faith in secret with no spiritual guidance except their own moral fervor and inner faith.

The rugged locations chosen for both the charcoal hut and Tomogi village challenged the filmmakers with conditions of nearly overwhelming difficulty -- thick mud resembling quicksand, rocky inclines, and rutted pathways studded with stones and small boulders that made walking hard and moving equipment even more arduous.

Rapidly changing weather patterns -- rain, mist and fog one minute; blinding sunshine the next -- added to the mix.

“We had huge logistical challenges from an organizational standpoint,” director of photography Rodrigo Prieto says. “For cinematography, the two main issues were continuity and darkness. Continuity was challenging because of the constant changes of weather and lighting conditions throughout the day in our locations. In the span of a few hours we could have bright sunlight, followed by rain or fog or clouds.

“The script has long scenes that took full days to complete and had to look like they happened in a few minutes. Controlling the natural lighting conditions took a great effort. In one instance, we re-shot a whole scene in fog we had almost completed in sunlight.

“Lighting continuity was also a challenge in other scenes that required sunset or dusk lighting for several minutes on screen,” Prieto says. “I decided to shoot such scenes at night and light them for sunset or dusk with artificial film lighting so the consistency of the light could be maintained. This meant big lighting rigs to simulate daylight in exteriors that were shot at night.

“And darkness was a challenge since our priests have to remain hiding for a big part of the film,” Prieto adds. “They conduct their masses, meetings and travels in the cover of night. This meant simulating moonlight in vast areas, including the ocean.”

Access to such unyielding locations was a daunting challenge.

“In some cases, there was no way of bringing in heavy equipment such as lighting cranes,” Prieto says. “Many of our mountainous locations required long hikes to get to them, so the gear had to be carried by hand. And some of these places became very slippery when the humidity increased, making the shoot very perilous. Many other times the deep mud made walking difficult, so laying dolly track or operating a Steadicam was no walk in the park!

“That is one of the reasons I resorted to dusk for night instead of using lighting to create moonlight for some of the scenes, specifically around Tomogi Village. I think all the difficulty we confronted is all there on the screen. The struggles the priests are going through are palpable since the places we were filming were very, very rough in reality.”

In the face of such conditions, Scorsese nonetheless filmed at a steady pace. He shot dramatic and exciting sequences with great economy, force and purpose – the meeting of the hearts and minds of both the simple villagers and the young priests as well as the frightening and dramatic moment in which Samurai soldiers descend on horseback into Tomogi village and demand hostages who they say must publicly denounce their faith or sacrifice their lives in the most brutal and agonizing manner imaginable.

The Tomogi village exteriors completed, the unit then returned to the studio to film on a soundstage sequences inside Ichizo’s hut. Ichizo (Oida) is the Tomogi village elder. Inside his humble abode, the fathers, Rodrigues and Garupe, learn firsthand of the villagers’ faith, devotion and love, and discover how these devout Christians worship undercover in fear for their lives. The scenes also illustrate the beautiful, austere and timeless rituals of the Catholic Church. We see the Fathers ministering to their new flock, baptizing a village infant, hearing confession, conducting and reciting the Latin mass.

“We did extensive research on the period,” Prieto says. “Marty was very keen on making everything as authentic as possible. We had a team of advisers we consulted all along, mostly Marianne Bower, our head researcher. Francesca Lo Schiavo, our set decorator, and I carefully picked the lighting sources for our interior scenes. We made sure that the oil lamps and torchieres we used were accurate to the period.”

As Rodrigo Prieto points out, for these scenes, as for all the sequences of the story, Scorsese aimed for complete authenticity, absolute verisimilitude in terms of the historical period and the Christian rituals of the era.

Working on the story and script as he had been for so many years, the director was deeply versed in the period, having absorbed in great and specific detail the many complex and conflicting currents of history that coursed through that turbulent time. He was determined to get it right.

Scorsese speaks about this at length.

“Silence takes place in 1643,” he says. “The main events of Silence take place in 1640 and 1641 – the early Edo period. The first missionaries arrived in Japan almost 100 years earlier - in the mid-16th century. In fact, the first Christian missionary to set foot in Japan was Frances Xavier, a founder of the Jesuit order – during a time of political instability.

“This was during the Sengoku period, when all the different clans were at war for control of the nation. The missionary work was directly tied to the opening of western trade on a large scale, which is why there were conflicts between the missionaries from different orders and different nations.

“For decades, the missionaries were generally welcomed and tolerated in Japan and by 1600, there were an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 Japanese converts to Christianity – of all classes.

“With the establishment of the Tokugawa regime, the shogunate began to consolidate power and unify Japan. The Portuguese and other European missionaries were perceived as challengers to the power of the shogunate and in 1587 the first in a series of orders banishing Christians was written.

“During the next decade or so the missionary effort continued until in 1614 when an Edict of Expulsion forced Christian missionaries underground. One of these missionaries was Christovão Ferreira, who was in charge of the Jesuit order in Japan, and one of the historical figures who is so important in the story of Silence. Most missionaries were forced to leave Japan but many refused to leave and served the faithful Christian community in secret.

“And so began the period of persecution – where Christians were routed out of hiding and were either forced to apostatize – to renounce their faith - or suffer various forms of torture and death,” Scorsese says.

“The exact number of Christians killed in this period can’t be known, but it’s possible that it was in the thousands. In 1633, the Jesuits received the shattering news that Christovão Ferreira, had apostatized, converted to Buddhism and was collaborating with the Japanese government. Shusaku Endo’s novel is based on these historical incidents, and Ferreira is the character played by Liam Neeson.

“Soon after, Japan’s borders were essentially closed to the West and would remain so for 200 years. The two young Jesuit priests in Silence travel to Japan in secret knowing at any moment they could be tracked down, captured, tortured and executed. “This is a lot of history, a lot of historical forces interacting in an extremely complex manner. I thought about giving the audience a historical context with a card at the beginning or narration or expository dialogue, and then I decided to go another way. Why? Because I wanted the world of mid-17th century Japan to feel as mysterious to the audience as it did to Rodrigues and Garupe. And, on another level, because the conflicts that occur in the picture—the persecution of religious minorities, the testing of faith—are timeless.”

In regard to recreating on screen an accurate vision of 17th century Japan, the director’s longtime archivist and researcher, Marianne Bower, played a significant role in the production. Having conducted and collected reams of research on Endo’s novel and on the history of the period, Bower was a key presence on set every day, an indispensable adviser to cast and crew because it was clear she also uniquely understood the director’s vision.

Bower had begun her work for Scorsese on Silence as early as 2003, delving deeply into Endo’s novel as well as the period, amassing a wealth of materials. “The first question Marty and I asked ourselves was, what did Portuguese priests of the sixteenth century actually look like?” Bower says. “We knew that Endo’s book was based on real people. Father Ferreira was a famous figure of his time. So, we set out to learn as much about the real-life characters as we could.

“Basically, when researching a project like this one, I look first for visual materials in museums and libraries, in this case materials that depict images of 17th century Japan. Something valuable I came up was a series of screens depicting the arrival of the Portuguese in Japan.

“I also collected images, engravings and books that describe the history of the period in detail and I read up on the so-called Hidden Christian communities that existed in Japan at the time. What I found especially remarkable was the amount of imagery available of the torture that was inflicted on the Christians by the Samurai. It’s breathtaking.”

In fact, Scorsese and Bower poured over scores of images and books on the history of the period and everything related to it. They read up as well on everything they could find on the roots of Christianity, a subject in which the director was already steeped, making contact as they worked with noted historians in the field. George Elison, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, author of Deus Destroyed, and Liam Brockey, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, author of Journey to the East and The Visitor were valuable sources.

An additional source of knowledge and information throughout pre-production and shooting was Van Gessel, the English translator of Endo’s work who was always available to answer questions. And yet another indispensable counselor for Scorsese and Andrew Garfield during pre-production in New York was the Jesuit priest Father James Martin, editor at large of the Jesuit publication, America. Father Martin spent hours on end with director and actor going over the fine points of Christian theology and Jesuit theory. All this was a rich fount of information and inspiration for the filmmakers. “All the material we found, all the notes we made on our conversations were collected and displayed in binders for easy and accessible reference and we used them every day,” Bower says.

Moreover, during the actual filming in Taiwan, production engaged the services of several Jesuit priests, missionaries who reside in Taipei, two in particular, Father Alberto Nunez Ortiz, Professor of Theology, Fu Jen University in Taipei, and Father Jerry Martinez, Vice President of Kuangchi Program Services, the Jesuit-run TV station in Taiwan. These Jesuits priests were often on set during shooting days in what might be called the capacity of technical advisers, educating the actors, the filmmakers and the crew, orienting them into the deep meaning of Christian rituals and the exact manner in which they would have been performed in 1640, the year the story takes place. Father Nunez, who was born in Spain, an expert in the history of Catholicism, is completely conversant with manner in which Catholic rituals have been enacted throughout the centuries.

“I was amazed and impressed by the meticulousness with which the director and the actors approached this subject matter. They had already devoted so much time and effort in understanding the era they were depicting. But I found all the work they were doing as they filmed made them even more curious,” Father Nunez says. “They were constantly questioning me. Watching Mr. Scorsese shoot I often felt that I was being transported back in time.”

Interior sequences in Tomogi village now completed, the unit traveled by train three hours across the width of Taiwan to the county of Hualien where Scorsese would film on the area’s Shimen Beach’s rocky shoreline, alongside its wind and wave-swept inlets, and inside its forbidding caves.

At Shimen the director staged scenes of awesome suffering – the crucifixions of the three Tomogi villagers, Ichizo, Mokichi (Tsukamoto) and a nameless soul, who have sacrificed themselves for their faith and for the well-being of the remaining villagers.

Crucifixion is a harrowing process no matter how it is carried out. In 17th century Japan, Samurai devised an especially cruel version in which the crosses are affixed on the rocky beach’s shoreline so that when the swirling tide comes sweeping in, the victims on the cross, devoured by the water and the elements, are slowly, mercilessly drowned.

Crew members marveled at the strength and energy of 83-year-old Yoshi Oida displayed as he threw himself into the role of Ichizo. Oida, a native of Japan who lives in Paris and has spent many years in France working there with Peter Brook, is a renowned teacher of acting, the author of three books on the subject. On the set of Silence Oida embraced his role with the vigor and abandon of a man half his age.

“Ichizo is a noble man, the kind of person it is a gift to portray. It’s a matter for me of understanding him emotionally, the way he thinks and feels, the way he experiences his profound faith,” Oida says. “But it’s also essential for me to understand firsthand what the character suffers not only mentally and emotionally but physically.”

In the process, Oida utilized many of the concepts he had written about in his books.

“Spending time on the cross during the crucifixion scene became a moment of grace for me,” he says. “At the same time, it was necessary for me to lie down and rest between takes. Ichizo had no such luxury, of course. Even so, working physically like that gives me a sense of what so many people went through.”

Andrew Garfield was impressed watching Oida work, a vivid illustration of acting techniques he had read about.

“I was so happy to meet Yoshi and to have the chance to work with him. I read his book The Invisible Actor in drama school and it made a deep impression on me. I told him so. Amazing to work with him,” Garfield says.

Equally astonishing in these scenes was Shinya Tsukamoto who seemed to endure hours on the cross for the film. There he was tied to the wooden structure by rough-hewn ropes, buffeted by surging waves and burning sunshine, requiring very little assistance or help from stunt workers who were on hand to relieve him.

“I cannot express what an honor it is for me for be in a film by Martin Scorsese, to work with him every day,” says the actor, who is of course more renowned in his own right as a highly successful and respected film director.

“People discuss faith with me on set because the nature of faith is one of the big themes of the film. When they ask if I have faith, I say my faith is Martin Scorsese,” Tsukamoto says. “These are not empty words. The seriousness of this film, the rigors we have all gone through to film, Mr. Scorsese most of all, endow him and the project with a kind of sanctity, a deep beauty full of the richest meaning.”

Every actor found himself giving his all. According to Andrew Garfield, the role of Father Rodrigues remained a profound challenge for him every day of production. Before filming got under way the actor spent a lot of time as he says getting the material into “my body, my bones. I did a real spiritual exploration. My father was Jewish, my mother Christian and my brother and I were brought up without any religious instruction or practices. I’m interested in Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism – all religions and cosmologies,” he says.

As part of his preparation, Garfield spent time with Father Martin, the Jesuit scholar and author based in New York. “I developed a deep relationship with Father Martin. He introduced me to the life of Jesus and to the Jesuits and I was inspired by them.”

Garfield says his work with the priest gave him insight into Rodrigues soul.

“Father Rodrigues begins being an idealistic, single-pointed person thinking he knows what life is about. But he comes to realize he’s one of many, all too human, and he has to accept his humanity.”

Garfield says, “Every day of filming I was deeply immersed in the 1640 Japan of my imagination. But shooting on these extraordinary locations in Taiwan was a gift. We have the most multinational crew I’ve ever worked with. How moving it was to see all these people forming a village to serve this incredible director in telling this incredible story.

“These kinds of epic, mysterious and complex journeys don’t always get made into a film, stories that are neither black or white, good or evil but true to life, gray and complex. The fact that this one got made is a testament to Marty’s vision and determination,”

For his part, Driver found the physical privation the actors had to endure particularly challenging. He says losing weight was as much preparation for the role as the historical research he did.

“It was helpful to be hungry and tired most of the time.”

As Driver explains, being poorly nourished is not the only testing situation the fathers find themselves in Japan.

“They’ve been traveling thousands of miles by sea and land. We don’t see it on screen but we have to feel in the way the characters present themselves, the fact that they endured difficulties and hardships far from home, traveling in harsh conditions for two long years.”

As for the rough and sometimes hard to access but beautiful locations, Driver says, “they were bad for comfort but good for the movie. A small part of what the characters endured in Japan.”

In the Niushan area of Hualien, Scorsese filmed Father Rodrigues’ journey alone to a neighboring village, Goto, a fishing community where he encounters a second group of devout Christians. Among the villagers, Father Rodrigues is surprised when Kichijiro reappears on the beach and begs the priest to hear his confession.

Traveling next to the city of Taichung, Scorsese and crew filmed inside a tank that was originally built for Life of Pi located near an industrial park outside the city, scenes depicting several of the journeys by sea the fathers embark on.

DP Prieto says, “For these boat travels at night, my gaffer Karl Engeler built a huge soft lighting box hung from an industrial crane to simulate soft, dim moonlight. We augmented the mysterious feel of those scenes with fog machines inspired by the great Japanese film Ugetsu.”

Several key sequences were next filmed in the Taoyuan Valley outside Taipei, sequences depicting the wanderings alone of Father Rodrigues, followed by a crucial scene in a stream at the Dahwa Potholes outside Taipei – the arrest by the Samurai of Father Rodrigues.

The sequences completed, the unit returned to the CMPC studio for series of scenes set in Nagasaki and the prison to which Rodrigues is confined after his arrest. The scenes included encounters with the Interpreter (Asano) and the feared Inquisitor Inoue (Ogata) on the prison grounds; Rodrigues being paraded through the streets of Nagasaki before a curious, jeering populace; and demonstrations Rodrigues observes in despair from inside his prison cell of the unspeakable horror the Japanese inflict on Christian prisoners.

Scorsese and crew then traveled to a beach location outside Taipei to film an excursion Rodrigues is compelled to take with the Interpreter where Father Rodrigues is forced to witness a scene of unbearable personal tragedy for him: the death of Father Garupe.

Such sequences exerted a force and impact many of the actors and crew, including Prieto.

“I was raised Catholic, and at one point in my teens, I felt a deep connection to my religion,” he says. “As the years passed I found myself questioning the Church’s dogmas. I see how a strong faith helps people deal with life. But what exactly does faith mean? And do we need a church hierarchy or organized religion to experience it? Filming Silence was a way for me to think about these issues and express them visually through lighting and camerawork.”

Production designer Ferretti’s sets for each of these sequences created not only the look of 17th century Japan but also somehow reflect the mood and atmosphere of the story.

Ferretti is proud that Silence is his ninth film for Martin Scorsese but he points out that it’s one he’s been involved in for at least 25 years.

“When I was working on Fellini’s film Voice of the Moon, I was asked by a producer if I would be interested in working with Martin Scorsese on his next film. That film was Silence. At that point in his career Ferretti says he had yet to work with the director; The Age of Innocence was their first collaboration. But of course, he was interested, he said.

“But as the film never got made then, I heard nothing more at the time,” Ferretti says.

“Over the years, I think I must have started to design Silence five or six times. I went to Vancouver and to New Zealand looking for locations, more than one time, and each time it didn’t happen. But Marty was determined to make the movie and finally, finally now I was able to make the designs.”

Ferretti was impressed and inspired by the landscape and terrain of Taiwan and happy with the CMPC studio with its soundstages and back lot. Here he designed and created a collection of sets that befit the epic tale: the colony of Macao with its teeming streets; the Jesuit University there; Father Valignano’s study; Father Rodrigues’ bedroom; streets in the city of Nagasaki; the Japanese prison there; a Buddhist temple; a Christian residence; and the port of Dejima. Ferretti created and oversaw with the director’s approval all this in addition to all the sets that were built on the unit’s many locations.

“As many times as I was ready to begin the film only to face postponement, when it finally happened we had to start everything from scratch,” Ferretti says. Beginning from scratch for the designer meant reading the novel several times in addition to the various drafts of the script. Ferretti also made several trips to Japan for the purpose of research having not only to do with the sets but also the costumes which he had to design. On his travels he visited the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagasaki. In the latter city he went to the Endo museum.

“We not only created the Jesuit outfits for the priests but also the peasant garb they wore in Japan as well the costumes for the villagers, the Samurai, even the Dutch traders who appear in the film,” Ferretti says.

“When I do this, sets and costumes, I imagine what it was like to live at that time just as an actor might. And then I look at everything and sometimes if I find a mistake instead of correcting it I leave it. In real life there are always mistakes and in sets and costumes if something is out of sync it’s OK. It makes it seem like real life.”

Scenes inside the Inquisitor’s office where Father Rodrigues defends his faith to both the fearsome, aged Inoue and his fierce lieutenant, the Interpreter, were filmed at a set created in one of the city’s small parkland areas. Back at CMPC Scorsese then staged Rodrigues fateful encounter in the Buddhist Temple with his former teacher and spiritual mentor, Father Ferreira. The unit then returned to the Inquisitor’s office set for powerful scenes depicting unrelenting physical abuse inflicted by the Japanese on the Christians and as well as a crucial scene in the climax of the film of capitulation and acceptance.

Filmmakers and cast then returned once more to the mountainous area on the outskirts of Taipei. This time the unit set up in a Taiwanese national park, Gengzipin, which local tourist authorities describe as a sulphurous field of geothermal activity with steaming waters measuring 212 degrees Fahrenheit bubbling up out of the ground as they have done for millennia.

On this extraordinary and dangerous location, working carefully, shrouded in all sorts of protective gear including hard hats, Scorsese filmed the important sequence at Unzen, in which Father Ferreira witnesses the brutal treatment of European priests and monks by their Japanese captors.

Scorsese readily admits, “Many of the locations were tough—it was, really, one of the hardest shoots I’ve ever had—but that’s the nature of the story. So much of the action takes place in hovels, in squalid settings, in mud or on steep and rocky terrain.

“The Christian converts around 17th-century Nagasaki lived extremely tough lives, without comfort or elegance of any kind, and the missionaries were hidden away in hovels. In the second half of the picture, you’re seeing everything from Rodrigues’ point of view, much of the time through the bars of his prison cell, from the inside looking out. So, we needed studio resources, which we had in Taipei, plus settings by the sea and in the mountains.”

The actors to a man embraced the hardships they faced. Liam Neeson was prepared for whatever is was going to take to play Father Ferreira.

“In New York, before production began, as you know, Andrew and I worked with Father Martin, a Jesuit consultant on the film, discussing theology, practicing church rituals, going over the spiritual exercises involved in the Jesuit order.”

They learned what the Jesuits go through and what they were in for. For Neeson found the experience proved exhilarating.

“I love the church. I call myself a practicing lapsed Catholic. I love going into a church, saying prayers, having a conversation with god.”

Discussing issues of faith with both the Jesuit father and his young co-star was also illuminating for Neeson.

“Andrew Garfield is a remarkable young actor,” he says, “thoughtful, immersive in the way of De Niro and Daniel Day-Lewis. The real deal.”

Neeson also has high praise for his director.

“Martin Scorsese commands such respect. When I first worked with him on Gangs of New York, I was intimidated by his reputation and had to work through that.” Silence presented the actor with a new and different aspect of the collaborating with his director.

“This film is something Marty has meditated on for many years. I admit. I was nervous. Am I enough for the role? I thought. I got over this feeling by being as honest as I could, by being Liam Neeson analyzing his soul through Father Ferreira.”

He adds, “Marty does this wonderful thing on set. He demands absolute silence when he is talking to his actors. Not that actors are the most important people on set. They’re not. But Marty asks people to pay attention at all times to what’s happening when he works and shoots, and when the attention of the entire crew is focused on a specific piece of the process of the film being made, that’s inspiring.”

Adam Driver also found working with the director inspiring and uplifting.

“He is very generous with his time,” Driver says of Scorsese. “Any scene, any question you have, he’s willing to talk about it. He’s wanted to make this movie for 28 years but he doesn’t make it a dictatorship.

“For me it’s life enhancing, a rare thing personally to work with someone I feel is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time but who is very good at breaking down preconceived notions because he wants to the make the film the best version of what it can be. He wants you to take ownership of your role. He wants you to surprise him, to surprise yourself and this takes the fear out of working with someone of his reputation and it almost becomes like working on any other movie.”

Rodrigo Prieto exclaims, “I just love working with Marty. Listening to him go through his thought process on show to shoot a scene is fascinating. Every camera angle, and whether the camera moves or not, is the result of deep understanding of what he wants to express in every scene.

“There is never a random move or superfluous shot. Every decision emanates from the emotional content of the specific moment in the story. He’s also a very attentive collaborator. He listens carefully to the ideas presented by his team and encourages creative participation. I feel he gets the best from each and every person on the crew. I wake up every shoot day extremely excited about the day ahead when I am working with him.”

Returning from Gengzipin to the studio once again, Scorsese concluded filming with a series of scenes in Dejima and Nagasaki that serve as a kind of epilogue to the story. Production wrapped at CMPC on the evening of May 15, 2015, after approximately fifteen weeks of filming.


Bande originale de Kathryn Kluge & Kim Allen Kluge
La musique du film est composée par le couple Kathryn et Kim Allen Kluge, spécialistes de musique savante

Liste des titres

    Rain Falls Unceasingly on the Sea
    Blowing Through the Grove
    Disrupting the Glimmering Air
    Cosmic Ocean
    Dreams and Echoes
    Sea Bells
    Rhythmic Cicadas
    Whispers in the Dark
    Sea Monks
    Forgive Me
    Ferreira in the Pit
    The Dreaded Moment
    Drowned Chorus
    Cicada Voices in his Head
    Secret Sacrament
    Sea Angels
    Foreboding Sea
    Black Drum
    Saints and Heroes
    Only God Can Answer

Autres morceaux présents dans le film

    Francesco's Cosmic Beam Experience - Francesco Lupica
    The Monk Thinks His Wife - Pien-Pien Yen / Tyng yi Chen
    Taiko Drums - Kaoru Watanabe
    Taiko Beat - Michael et Robert Silverman
    Uraura Nobesu - Tomeichi Ooka, Sakae Doi, Yosh
    Kin No Mai - Joji Hirota / Hiten Ryu Daiko
    For The Souls in Purgatory (traditionnel)
    Chanting Gloriosa (traditionnel) - Hidden Christians
    Slow Taikos - Antoine Binant & Yutaka Nakamura
    Tantum Ergo Sacramentum (traditionnel) - Thomas d'Aquin / Shinya Tsukamoto
    Improvisacion Sobre O Gloriosa Domina (traditionnel) - Jordi Savall
    Improvised Street Musicians - Suzuki Kyosuke, Daisuke Ishiwata, Chikako Nakagawa, Ninako Horikoshi', Mika Shigemori, Hiroka Yuko
    Kagura of the Tsuno Mountain (Tsunoyama Kagura) (traditionnel) - Wakayama Ensemble
    Kaihou - Suihou Tousha
    O Gloriosa Domina (traditionnel) - Nana Komatsu, Ryō Kase, Fumitaka Terai, Hako Ohshima & Hideki Nishioka
    Cloud and Light - Mayumi Miyata et l'orchestre de musiquez de chambre de Munich
    Sairei shishi-mai Nuno-mai, Hei no mai, Suzu no mai, Naka-otoshi (traditionnel) - Parishoners of the Haruna Jinja Shrine
    Bai Bai Bai - Maiko Michishita


Francesco's Cosmic Beam Experience live, Marina Del ReyComposed and performed by Francesco Lupica

The Monk Thinks His WifeTraditional arranged by Pien-Pien Yen and Tyng yi Chen
Performed by Pien-Pien Yen and Tyng yi Chen

Taiko DrumsPerformed by Kaoru Watanabe
Produced by Stewart Lerman and Randall Poster

Uraura nobesuTraditional
performed by Tomeichi Ooka, Sakae Doi, Yoshiaki Isomoto
Courtesy of King Record Co., Ltd.

Taiko BeatWritten by Michael Silverman and Robert Silverman
Performed by Taiko Drums
Courtesy of New Element and TuneCore, Inc.

For the Souls in PurgatoryTraditional
Performed by Women from Beira Baxa with adufe accompaniment
Courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings/UNESCO

Kin No MaiWritten by Joji Hirota
Performed by Joji Hirota and Hiten Ryu Daiko
Courtesy of ARC Music Productions Int. Ltd.

Slow TaikosWritten and performed by Antoine Binant and Yutaka Nakamura
Courtesy of Blue Pie Records USA and Sound For Production

Taiko DojoWritten by Michael Silverman and Robert Silverman
Performed by Japanese Taiko Drums
Courtesy of New Element and TuneCore, Inc.

Tantum Ergo SacramentumTraditional written by St. Thomas Aquinas
Arranged by Tatsuo Minagawa
Performed by Shinya Tsukamoto

Improvisacion Sobre O Gloriosa DominaTraditional
Performed by Jordi Savall
Courtesy of Alia Vox

Improvised Street MusiciansComposed and performed by Suzuki Kyosuke, Daisuke Ishiwata, Chikako Nakagawa, Ninako Horikoshi, Mika Shigemori and Hiroka Yuko
Kagura of the Tsuno Mountain (Tsunoyama Kagura)

Traditional arranged by Ryan ParkerPerformed by Wakayama Ensemble
Courtesy of Essential Media Group LLC

KaihouWritten by Suihou Tousha
Performed by Suihou Tousha
Courtesy of Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd.

O Gloriosa DominaTraditional arranged by Tatsuo Minagawa
Performed by Nana Komatsu, Ryo Kase, Fumitaka Terai, Hako Oshima and Hideki Nishioka

Cloud and LightWritten by Toshio Hosokawa
Performed by Mayumi Miyata and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Liebreich
Courtesy of ECM Records

Sairei shishi-mai Nuno-mai, Hei no mai, Suzu no mai, Naka-otoshiTraditional
Performed by Parishoners of the Haruna Jinja Shrine
Courtesy of Arbiter of Cultural Traditions

Bai Bai BaiComposed by Maiko Michishita

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