Though details of Martin Scorsese‘s Silence are scant, what is clear is that the director seems to be very interested in the reaction of the Catholic community to his film. A few weeks ago we reported that there will be a private screening of Silence in Rome for 400 Jesuit priests, the religious order that the movie focuses on. It’s also the order that Pope Francis belongs to, which is perhaps one reason why he has granted Scorsese a private audience (arranged by producer Gastón Pavlovich) before the movie has its Vatican debut in front of 50 guests.
Deadline is reporting that the Vatican screening will take place November 30th, and while sometimes Pontifex attends these screenings and sometimes he does not, one presumes he will take a special interest in this material. Silence is based on a 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo, and has been a passion project of Scorsese’s for 20 years. The story, which takes place in the 17th century, follows two young Jesuit priests (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver), who travel to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson). The story deals with the persecution of Jesuit missionaries in Japan at that time. Last year, Garfield said of his character’s journey that,
It’s a lifetime that the character Father Rodriguez 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.
Scorsese obviously feels strongly that the material will be regarded warmly by the Jesuits, and he seems eager to give them VIP access in regards to the release of the film. Maybe he still feels badly about the reception to The Last Temptation of Christ, though he’s spent a large portion of his directorial career focusing on stories with spiritual themes. From Garfield’s comments, it sounds like Silence will be a profound meditation on the nature of faith. The Rev. James J. Martin, a U.S.-based Jesuit priest, acted as an advisor on the film, which further shows Scorsese’s desire to be as authentic as possible when it comes to portraying the order and their values. It’s an unusual stance for a mainstream director to take, and that heightens the anticipation for the film all the more.
The Vatican screening may be this week, but for the rest of us, Silence premieres December 23rd.