Few films this year have been as highly anticipated as Martin Scorsese’s Silence.
Adapting Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, which is about the persecution endured by Catholic missionaries and converts in 17th-century Japan, has been the passion project of the Academy Award winning director of Taxi Driver and The Departed since the late 1980s. After decades of delays and setbacks, Scorsese has finally filmed the story that haunted him all those years – and the trailer is here to prove it.
“Our Lord said to them, ‘Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every living creature.” These are the first words we hear from the film, spoken by Portuguese priest Father Rodrigues (played by Andrew Garfield). We’re then thrown into two distinct reels of footage. In the first, Rodrigues and Father Garrpe (played by Adam Driver) learn that another priest named Ferreira (Liam Neeson) has renounced God and the Catholic faith while on mission in Japan. In the second segment, Rodrigues and Garrpe land on Japan’s shores to investigate – and very quickly experience for themselves the direness of the situation there.
Over a heart-pounding soundtrack of strings and drums, we see images of Japanese converts receiving the Eucharist in hiding, being dragged off by the authorities, and suffering torture, crucifixion, and death en masse. “The price for your glory is their suffering,” an official warns the priests. We see Rodrigues and Garrpe accompany the faithful through their physical anguish, but they’re visibly beset but a kind of mental anguish as well, wrestling with the guilt of what they’re causing and the truth of what they believe.
Silence looks to be every bit the “meditative and brutal” masterpiece moviegoers have been told about. But what’s really exciting about this film is how Scorsese will translate Endo’s weighty themes onto the screen. A flash in the trailer shows Rodrigues bent over a pool of water, where a haunting reflection of Christ’s face gazes back – a sign of the spiritual depths to which Silence will take us.
In an essay on the book, Scorsese describes it as a story about the “mystery” of faith as it relates to experiences of pain and unknowing. “Endo’s novel confronts the mystery of Christian faith, and by extension the mystery of faith itself,” Scorsese writes. “Rodrigues learns, one painful step at a time, that God’s love is more mysterious than he knows, that He leaves much more to the ways of men than we realize, and that He is always present … even in His silence.”
Silence will be released in select theaters on December 23 and nationwide in January. Order the novel here.