Director Martin Scorsese has adapted a book he has “reread countless times,” one that has given him “a kind of sustenance” that he has “found in only a very few works of art.”
The novel is Shusaku Endo’s Silence: With an Introduction by Martin Scorsese (Peter Owen Publishers, Dec. 1; trade paperback, Macmillan/Picador Modern Classics), first published in 1966 and winner of the Tanizaki Prize, one of Japan’s highest literary honors.
Entertainment Weekly writes that the film is about “a Portuguese Jesuit priest who is persecuted along with other Christians in 17th-century Japan … the hardship inflicted upon them [the priest and two others], and especially on their fellow Christians, puts their faith to the test.” It stars Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver.
In addition to the quotes above, Scorsese also writes in his introduction to the tie-in, that the priest in the novel, played by Neeson, “begins on the path of Christ and … ends replaying the role of Christianity’s greatest villain, Judas.” Endo “looks at the problem of Judas more directly than any other artist I know. He understood that, in order for Christianity to live, to adapt itself to other cultures and historical moments, it needs not just the figure of Christ but the figure of Judas as well.”
At a press conference in May, held to promote the first look at the film, Scorsese told reporters that he’d been trying to adapt the book for over 25 years and that “The subject matter presented by Shusaku Endo was in my life since I was very, very young … I was very much involved in religion, I was raised in a strong Catholic family. … Further reflection is how [we] want to lead our life in the Christian faith … so ultimately this book drew my attention when it was given to me in 1988.”
Silence will open Dec. 23 in a limited Oscar-qualifying run before opening in wide release in January.