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Overstreet

Silence (2016)

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Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Will Screen To 400 Jesuit Priests In Rome
EXCLUSIVE: Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Silence from Paramount will screen in Rome at the end of November to 400 Jesuit priests. The screening has been arranged courtesy of Rev. James J. Martin, S.J., a United States based-Jesuit who was a trusted adviser on the film, and has been a helpful friend to Paramount as they near the Dec. 23 limited release of Silence. Martin consulted during production making sure that the adaptation of Shûsaku Endô’s 1966 novel was as authentic as a Jesuit priest would want it. We understand that Martin equates the experience of watching Silence to living in a prayer. Martin is a preeminent force in the Society of Jesus, and is intertwined in the upper levels of the Catholic Church. . . .
Deadline.com, November 8

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ to Remain Quiet Until December
Paramount is currently set to unspool Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” for guilds and critics’ groups in December. It’s unusual for an Oscar player to be unveiled that late, as it risks missing the deadline for early looks from organizations like the National Board of Review, the New York and Los Angeles critics’ groups, and the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., whose nominations and superlatives often set the tone for the awards season. Thanksgiving week is usually when stragglers aim to screen in order to meet those groups’ deadlines. . . .
Variety, November 8

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It was on Vimeo — and beautiful — all afternoon and evening while the YouTube thing was failing. 

 

Edited by Overstreet

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An excellent article on Martin Scorsese and Silence, in yesterday's NY Times Magazine.  The author very obviously knows Scorsese's films and Endo's book.  I guess I should include a spoiler warning for those who haven't read the book, since the author does discuss the book and the film's ending.

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Has anyone else watched the earlier adaptation of Endo's book? It's directed by Masahiro Shinoda, whose film PALE FLOWER is a favourite of mine. I'm curious.

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It's been years since I watched Shinoda's adaptation, but I recall liking it quite a bit, though I didn't find it nearly as high an achievement as Double Suicide.

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On 11/28/2016 at 8:06 PM, Anders said:

Has anyone else watched the earlier adaptation of Endo's book? It's directed by Masahiro Shinoda, whose film PALE FLOWER is a favourite of mine. I'm curious.

Do you know where (or if) it's available to see in the US?

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1 hour ago, magadizer said:

Do you know where (or if) it's available to see in the US?

I've never seen it. I know there is a Eureka!/Masters of Cinema DVD, but it's a Region 2 release. If you have an all-region DVD player, that's probably your best bet.

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1 hour ago, Anders said:

I've never seen it. I know there is a Eureka!/Masters of Cinema DVD, but it's a Region 2 release. If you have an all-region DVD player, that's probably your best bet.

I'm almost certain it was on YouTube at some point, but I have doubts as to the legality of the upload, so....

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Here's a fascinating interview with Martin Scorsese about his journey of faith regarding Silence, both the book and the film.

 

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I've been mulling this one for a few days now. I've never read the book, which on the one hand might be to my disadvantage, but on the other hand it allows me to respond to the movie *as a movie*, y'know? I've got a thought about one moment in particular that I'd like to bounce off more people, but oh well.

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2 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

I've been mulling this one for a few days now. I've never read the book, which on the one hand might be to my disadvantage, but on the other hand it allows me to respond to the movie *as a movie*, y'know? I've got a thought about one moment in particular that I'd like to bounce off more people, but oh well.

You saw the film? Have you seen the previous Silence film adaptation? It'd be very interesting to hear a Christian take on the film which only had experienced Silence through Scorsese.

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Peter Debruge calls Silence "a taxing film that will not only hold up to multiple viewings, but practically demands them." He also name-drops Dreyer, which should raise some interest in these parts.

Todd McCarthy skews more positive--or, at least, less conflicted--than Debruge, saying that Scorsese "has arguably made his most focused and searching exploration of the subject that has been both an explicit and implicit driving force behind many of his films."

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Joel Mayward wrote:
: You saw the film?

Yeah, last Tuesday.

: Have you seen the previous Silence film adaptation?

Nope.

: It'd be very interesting to hear a Christian take on the film which only had experienced Silence through Scorsese.

I don't know how "interesting" my own take on this film will be :) ... but FWIW, I was vaguely familiar with a few plot points thanks to what I've *heard* about the novel, and also because I've seen at least one other film about the 17th-century persecutions in Japan.

One thing I hadn't realized until watching the film is that the persecutors self-identified as Buddhist. It was interesting to see a movie about Buddhists persecuting Christians -- and especially to hear one of the persecutors argue that Buddhism and Christianity aren't that different anyway, so there's really no point in Christians trying to evangelize Japan -- given that Scorsese had previously made Kundun, a movie that was {1} about Tibetan Buddhists being persecuted by Chinese atheists and {2} a film that basically allowed its Catholic director to express his own appreciation of Buddhism.

But what I really want to know is who provided a key voice-over at a certain point. I *think* it was a particular actor, which may or may not have thematic significance, but I don't know for sure (and I didn't see any indication as to whose voice it was when I watched the credits).

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Zero Golden Globe nominations. Is Paramount burying this movie for fear of a Last Temptation backlash?

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The first clip.

The press notes (which I have not yet read).

The score, for your consideration (it's only about 26 minutes long).

- - -

Why Score for Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Was Disqualified by Oscar Music Branch
One of this season’s biggest Oscar snubs thus far is the disqualification of the “Silencescore by the husband and wife composing team of Kim Allen Kluge and Kathryn Kluge. Their score is daringly musical in the way that it emanates from nature, yet so subtle that it didn’t pass muster with the Academy’s music branch as “a substantial body of music.”
In other words, the classical composers were penalized for succeeding too well in creating an unconventional, Zen-like score at director Martin Scorsese’s urging: “When we first met with Mr. Scorsese, he said he didn’t want Japanese music or Gregorian Chants or any music — he wanted the sounds of nature,” Kim told IndieWire.
And after reading the novel by Shūsaku Endō about the 17th century persecution and torture of Japanese Christians, they understood why. “This is where it gets complex,” said Kim, who also conducts for the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in Virginia. “He didn’t just want nature sounds, they had to be musical. So there were all these contradictions and this elusive sound.”
“We worked off the book because the film was in a rough cut and we felt the music should grow as the mist and the rocks and the ocean and the wind and the rain,” added Kathryn, who didn’t see the movie until it was completed. “He uses them as leitmotifs throughout the book so Kim and I read them as perhaps the voice of God speaking through nature to Rodrigues [the Portuguese Jesuit priest played by Andrew Garfield]. But he couldn’t hear it. ”
For example, When Rodrigues is given a cross in the rain, there’s a single cricket sound and Scorsese placed it there for that very reason. . . .
IndieWire, December 16

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SDG's review over at ncregister.com.  Thank you, SDG.  Though I haven't yet seen the film, I'm grateful for how this review provides a space for me to ponder the thorny brilliance of the novel.  Oh, that climactic moment and how it ties me in knots...glad to see I'm not the only one who is tied in knots by it. :)  SDG captures something essential in the paragraph that begins "the climactic moment is much debated..."  The story gains so much power in the way it goes on after the climactic moment.  It appears from the review that Scorsese respects this element.  Glad to hear it.

Edited by Brian D

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Thanks, Brian D.

FWIW, I saw the film a couple of weeks ago at a NYC screening with Scorsese in attendance. There was a Q&A afterward, and I was sitting right in the front row, not six feet from Scorsese. Somehow the first audience member the mod called on was the guy right next to me, and after that he called on people all over the theater. In the end a publicist gave the moderator the high sign, and he said, "I'm sorry, they're telling me that was the last question, sorry, no more questions." But I kept my hand up and actually said, "Please." 

And Scorsese looked at me and said, "That guy really wants to ask a question." So the moderator gave me the mike! 

And, to my delight, when I said my name and affiliation, Scorsese blinked in recognition and said that he read my work! I had a hunch he might possibly recognize my name because of, well, because of this, from Ebert's 2008 essay on Last Temptation which went into his book on Scorsese: 

Quote

The film is indeed technically blasphemous. I have been persuaded of this by a thoughtful essay by Steven D. Greydanus of the National Catholic Register, a mainstream writer who simply and concisely explains why. I mention this only to argue that a film can be blasphemous, or anything else that the director desires, and we should only hope that it be as good as the filmmaker can make it, and convincing in its interior purpose. 

I confess I was a little concerned that he might be a bit irked with me, but he couldn't have been more gracious. Gave me a great answer to my question (I'll post it later) and shook my hand afterward and said he enjoyed reading me. It was a big deal for me in more ways than one. 

From my review of Silence

Quote

The Christian cultus of martyrdom served Christianity well, not only during the sporadic persecutions of the early centuries, but throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern age. Stories of the early martyrs’ heroic example were both a source of comfort and hope for medieval Catholics and Orthodox living under Islamic rule and a point of pride for the faithful in Christendom.

Then Christianity went to Japan — and in Japan it encountered something new, for which even the rigors of the Diocletian persecution were no true preparation. When 17th-century Japanese authorities in the time of the Tokugawa shogunate found it necessary to send the colonial powers of Europe packing and their European Jesus with them, they didn’t just shatter the missionaries’ bodies. They shattered their narrative.

Endo, one of Japan’s greatest novelists and a Catholic (he has been called a “Japanese Graham Greene,” which is about as useful, and as inexact, as most such analogies), explored this painful history in his 1966 novel Silence, generally regarded as his masterpiece. Scorsese read the book in Japan over a quarter century ago, shortly after finishing The Last Temptation of Christ, and wanted to film it ever since.

While I am (to put it mildly) no fan of Last Temptation, I did note, writing about it 15 years ago, that it was a film I could only imagine a Catholic director making. Now Scorsese has made another intensely Catholic film — one that I find almost as difficult as Last Temptation, but which draws me in as powerfully as Last Temptation repels me.

In a way it draws me in like a sore tooth one can’t stop probing with one’s tongue, like a painful memory that rises unbidden in one’s mind, stubbornly unresolved. Like Of Gods and Men, but much more so, Silence tells no one exactly what they want to hear, except those who can hear nothing else.

It poses a challenge for viewers of any faith or of none, or of any culture or ethnicity, even if the challenge is not the same for everyone. A friend who is an atheist has said that Silence made him want to believe in God. For my part, Silence presses my Christian ethos to the breaking point.

 

Edited by SDG

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Looking forward to hearing about your Q & A with Scorsese, SDG. 

The moment I began to expect big things from Scorsese's adaptation was when I realized how important the book was to Scorsese personally.  I saw that most of all when I read the foreword Scorsese wrote for a newer edition of the novel.  Scorsese concludes his foreword with these words :

" I picked up this novel for the first time almost twenty years ago. I’ve reread it countless times since, and I am preparing to adapt it as a film. It has given me a kind of sustenance that I have found in only a very few works of art. I leave you with Silence by the great Shusaku Endo. "

What, a novel that gives Martin Scorsese sustenance?  I want to know more about that!

Edited by Brian D

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On 12/12/2016 at 7:29 PM, Peter T Chattaway said:

But what I really want to know is who provided a key voice-over at a certain point. I *think* it was a particular actor, which may or may not have thematic significance, but I don't know for sure (and I didn't see any indication as to whose voice it was when I watched the credits).

If you're referring to the scene I think you're referring to, I have the same question. I checked the credits carefully, but there was no indication who provided said voice over.

 

Spoilers in white text

I think it was Neeson providing the voice of Christ saying, "Trample," but does anyone know if it was someone else?

 

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It didn't sound like Neeson to me. It sounded like Hinds, who plays the authority figure who sends Garfield and Driver to Japan in the first place.

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