Thursday, 12 January 2017

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Silence is a 2016 epic historical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Jay Cocks and Scorsese, based upon the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō. Although the story is set in Nagasaki, Japan, the film was shot entirely on location in Taiwan in and around Taipei. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano and Ciarán Hinds.[8] The plot follows two 17th-century Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Japan to locate their missing mentor and spread Catholicism.

A long-time passion project for Scorsese, which he developed for over 25 years, the film premiered in Rome on November 29, 2016,[9] and was released in the United States on December 23, 2016. The American Film Institute selected it as one of its ten Movies of the Year.[10] The National Board of Review chose it as as one of the year's top ten studio films


he last letter from Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson) arrives to Jesuit priest Alessandro Valignano (Ciarán Hinds) via a Dutch trader at St. Paul's College, Macau, Valignano relays that he heard from the trader that Ferreira committed apostasy after being tortured. His two pupils Father Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver) insist on travelling to Japan to find him, believing that it would be impossible for Ferreira to commit apostasy and that they also would like to know the fate of Ferreira. Valignano pleads with them not to go but realizes that he cannot stop them but warns them that they will be the last two priests to go on a mission to Japan.

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The priests hear rumor of a Japanese in Macau and go to investigate. At a bar they find Kichijiro (Yosuke Kubozuka), an alcoholic fisherman who has fled Japan. He begs the priests to let him join them and in return he will help guide them through Japan.

Rodrigues and Garupe arrive in Japan at Tomogi, a run-down village. There they find the local Christian population driven underground. A samurai arrives at the village and takes Ichizo (Yoshi Oida) hostage, but he has a change of heart when he sees the downtrodden faces of the people. He declares that he will let Ichizo go, but that if he does not hear any information about any suspected Christians, he will take Ichizo as well as three others prisoner.

Mokichi (Shin'ya Tsukamoto) volunteers to be prisoner, along with Kichijiro and one other. The Samurai arrives again and to ferret out hidden Christians, he forces the four men to trample on a fumie, a crudely carved image of Christ. All of them do as they are told but the Samurai doubts them, he then asks all of them to spit on a crucifix and blaspheme their religion. Only Kichijiro does so and he is released. The other three are strapped to wooden crosses on the beach, given sake as a last rite and are then subjected to the waves of the Ocean. Four days later, Mokichi, who was the last one alive finally succumbs to his injuries. The bodies are then cremated on a funeral pyre so that they cannot be given a proper Christian burial.

Garupe leaves for Hirado believing that the presence of the priests in Japan forces the shogunate to terrorize the village. Rodrigues goes to Goto to try to learn more about Shinmachi, The last place Father Ferreira lived, he finds the village completely abandoned and over-run with cats, suggesting the shogunate completely destroyed it. Rodrigues wanders around Goto as his journal depicts his struggles: he understands suffering for the sake of one's own faith; but he struggles over whether it is self-centered and unmerciful to refuse to recant when doing so will end another's suffering. He eventually runs into Kichijiro again who provides him nourishment. Rodrigues finds that the fish that he ate from Kichijiro was salty and that he needs water, he eventually comes across a stream with Kichijiro. While drinking from the stream Rodrigues becomes delirious and sees religious iconography in the pool of water. He hears a noise from behind him and is captured by Samurai, as Rodrigues is being lead away the Samurai throws pieces of silver to Kichijiro as there is a bounty on Priests and Christians, Kichijiro begs Rodrigues for forgiveness, but he does not reply.

Rodrigues is brought to a clearing where he converses with a group of captured Christians among them a woman named Monica (Nana Komatsu) and her husband Juan (Ryo Kase), he tries to ask them about Ferreira but before they can answer, the Old Samurai (Issey Ogata) who appeared in Tomogi appears and takes them all away except for Rodrigues. The Old Samurai suggests that Rodrigues will not be harmed. However, the other Christians that were captured will suffer unless he commits apostasy, a point that is relayed to him by the Interpreter (Tadanobu Asano) that he is issued.

Rodrigues is taken to Nagasaki by boat, imprisoned and then re-united with the captured Christians from Goto. He is let out of his cell to be brought to tribunal in front of five Samurai. The Old Samurai from before is among them, though another main Samurai (SABU) speaks for them asking about Rodrigues' comfort and how he is being taken care of, he then states that the Catholic doctrine is of no use to Japan and that in the eyes of the shogunate, it is dangerous. Rodrigues defends his doctrine, but the Samurai says that Christianity will not flourish in Japan, Rodrigues retorts that is because the soil is poisoned. The Samurai does not reply, Rodrigues senses he is at a stalemate with the tribunal and demands that he be brought before the Inquisitor, Inoue Masashige. This causes the Samurai to break out in laughter, because the Old Samurai is actually Inoue himself.

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Rodrigues is put back into his cell, the prisoners are made to dig holes in the prison courtyard. At some point, Kichijiro shows up and says that the court officials threatened him to give up Rodrigues. The guard asks him to leave but Kichijiro says he is a Christian and that he should be imprisoned. The guards oblige him. A Court Official then forces the Christians to trample on a fumie, all of them refuse and as a result Juan is beheaded in front of the entire prison. The Official demonstrates what will happen if they do what they say, Kichijiro (as an example) is hauled out once more and steps on the fumie and he is allowed to leave immediately.

The next day, Rodrigues is brought to a beach by the Interpreter and is told he will be meeting another Portuguese man. Rodrigues believes this to be Ferreira, but he soon sees a famished Father Garupe walking along the beach along with Monica and two other Christian prisoners. Rodrigues is told by the Interpreter that Garupe knows he is alive, but that he has been falsely told that Rodrigues has committed apostasy. Garupe has been told that if he does not apostatize, then all three of the prisoners will die. The prisoners are tied up with straw mats and forced onto a boat. Garupe watches in vain as the two other prisoners are forced off the boat and drowned. When he sees Monica being drowned he swims over to try and help her but gets caught under the boat and drowns. The Interpreter asks Rodrigues to reflect on what he has seen, the suffering that he has caused and that he does not deserve to be called a priest.

A day later, Rodrigues is taken to a Buddhist Temple where he meets Father Ferreira, who is clean-shaven and now goes by the name Sawano Chūan, a name that was taken from an executed prisoner. Ferreirra says he committed apostasy while being tortured using anazuri (a method that involves being hung upside down over a pit and slowly bled) and states emphatically that he is no longer the man that Rodrigues knew. He realizes that after fifteen years in the country and a year in the temple he believes that Christianity is a lost cause in Japan and that it cannot grow because it is a "swamp". Ferreira states that the people Rodrigues thinks he converted did not die for God, that they died for him. He recites a proverb that "Mountains and rivers can be moved. But man’s nature cannot be moved." Stating that humans find their original nature in Japan and that in his estimation perhaps it's what's meant by finding God. Rodrigues calls him a disgrace, but Ferreira is unmoved.

Later that night, in his prison cell, Rodrigues hears what he believes to be snoring and a man in agony and demands to the Interpreter to make it stop. Ferreira appears and informs him that the sound is five Christians being tortured by anazuri. He tells Rodrigues that the only person who can end their suffering is him, not God. Rodrigues is brought to the pits and Ferreira says that only Rodrigues can spare their suffering. Rodrigues tells the Christians to apostatize, but Ferreira has said they have many times over and that only through Rodrigues apostatizing can they truly be free. As Rodrigues looks upon a fumie he sees the image he saw back in the pool of water, Christ breaks his silence: "Come ahead now. It’s all right. Step on Me. I understand your pain. I was born into this world to share men’s pain. I carried this cross for your pain. Step." Rodrigues puts his foot on the fumie.

One year later, Ferreira and a clean-shaven Rodrigues sort through various objects gathered from suspected Christians, anything that has religious iconography and vice versa is sorted into piles. Watching all of this is a Dutch trader by the name of Dieter Albrecht (Béla Baptiste) who narrates his encounters with the fallen priests. Albrecht states in his journal that Ferreira eventually passed away. Inoue informs a now-married Rodrigues that he will now go by the name Okada San'emon. Rodrigues seems resigned to the fact that he has lost, Inoue replies that "You were not defeated by me. You were defeated by this swamp of Japan."

Kichijiro, now a servant, asks Rodrigues for forgiveness. Rodrigues refuses saying that he is no longer a priest, yet he once again hears the voice of Christ speaking to him. Albrecht states in his journal that Inoue conducted periodic examination of all suspected Christians by having them step on a Fumie. In one instance, Kichijiro is caught with a religious amulet that 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 passed away, he is placed in a large round wooden casket, and his body is cremated. In the final shot of the film, we see that in Rodrigues' hands he still carries a tiny cross that was given to him by Mokichi when he first came to Japan.

This film marks the second adaptation of Shūsaku Endō's novel, which was previously adapted by Masahiro Shinoda into the 1971 film of the same name.

The film is considered a "passion project" of Scorsese's and has been in development since 1990, two years after the release of Scorsese's most controversial film, also with strongly religious themes, The Last Temptation of Christ. When asked why he retained interest in the project for over 20 years, Scorsese stated: "As you get older, ideas go and come. Questions, answers, loss of the answer again and more questions, and this is what really interests me. Yes, the cinema and the people in my life and my family are most important, but ultimately as you get older, there's got to be more. Much, much more. The very nature of secularism right now is really fascinating to me, but at the same time do you wipe away what could be more enriching in your life, which is an appreciation or some sort of search for that which is spiritual and transcends? That's one of the reasons why I made the George Harrison documentary. Silence is just something that I'm drawn to in that way. It's been an obsession, it has to be done... it's a strong, wonderful true story, a thriller in a way, but it deals with those questions."[21]

In 2009, Scorsese and the production crew went to Nagasaki, Japan, to visit the original sites Endo's novel was based on.[22] The production had begun to coalesce, with Daniel Day-Lewis, Benicio del Toro, and Gael García Bernal in negotiations to star.[23] However, Silence entered a state of development hell soon afterwards, with Scorsese deciding to work on Shutter Island and Hugo instead. In 2010, del Toro partially distanced himself from the project during promotion for The Wolfman, stating, "It would be a dream to work with Scorsese. Silence, the film we were going to do, has been pushed back but that's definitely something that I'm really looking forward to."[24]

In December 2011, Scorsese stated that Silence would be his next film. He also cast uncertainty on the involvements of Day-Lewis, del Toro, and Bernal.[25] In January 2012, Scorsese discussed the possibility of utilizing 3D for both Silence and a Frank Sinatra biopic he was developing.[26]

In March, though he had originally put it on the back burner and consequently dropped out, Scorsese signed back on to The Wolf of Wall Street and opted to direct it ahead of Silence.[27] However, at the time, Scorsese's publicist stated that Silence would come first.[28]

In May, the film picked up another producer in the recently revived Cecchi Gori Pictures, which placed the project first on its slate of upcoming films. Cecchi Gori was involved in pre-production for Silence, but years of unrelated legal disputes had interrupted its association to the film.[29]

In August 2012, Cecchi Gori Pictures sued Scorsese over an alleged breach of contract agreements related to Silence. According to the company, in 1990 Scorsese signed a written agreement to direct Silence. Scorsese was supposed to shoot the film following 1997's Kundun, and Cecchi Gori Pictures had apparently invested more than $750,000 for this purpose.[30] However, Scorsese chose to make Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, and The Aviator first.[31] Then, in 2004, Scorsese purportedly signed deals to postpone the film further in order to direct The Departed and Shutter Island. In 2011, Scorsese ostensibly agreed to one more deal, delaying Silence to direct Hugo. Cecchi Gori Pictures asserted that Scorsese agreed to pay "substantial compensation and other valuable benefits" to direct The Departed, Shutter Island, and Hugo. The company said the fees were "$1 million to $1.5 million per film plus up to 20 percent of Scorsese's backend compensation." The complaint was centered around the company's allegation that Scorsese failed to pay the fees agreed upon for Hugo, and that he breached the contract's terms by filming The Wolf of Wall Street ahead of Silence. Scorsese, via his representatives, responded, "The claims asserted are completely contradicted by, inconsistent with, and contrary to the express terms of an agreement entered into by the parties last year." He also denounced the lawsuit as a "media stunt" and a "meritless action."[32] The lawsuit was settled on January 17, 2014. The terms of the settlement were undisclosed.[30]

On April 19, 2013, it was announced that Scorsese would begin production on Silence in 2014, after a reputed 23-year wait. Irwin Winkler was announced as a producer the same day, as were Randall Emmett and George Furla, who would also finance the production through their company Emmett/Furla Films. Paul Breuls' Corsan Films was also reportedly funding the project.[21] Additionally, it was announced that the film would be shot in Taiwan.[33]

By February 2014, Scorsese had begun scouting locations in Taiwan,[34] with filming set for the summer.[35] Producer Irwin Winkler stated the choice to film in Taiwan was due to lower costs. "[The movie] was very, very expensive, and it was budgeted, because it takes place in 1670 in Japan. We got lucky and found out about Taipei, and in and around Taipei and Taiwan, we found great, great locations. The prices were very cheap, and we were able to make it for a price." Winkler also disclosed that the tight budget forced many of the cast and crew, including himself, to work for minimum pay: "And all the actors, Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, everybody worked for scale. Marty worked for scale, I worked for under scale. We gave back money."[36]

Endō's official translator Professor Van C. Gessel, who has translated eight of his novels, assisted as a consultant on the film.[37]

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Father James Martin worked closely with the filmmakers to ensure an accurate portrayal of the Jesuits.[38]

In May 2013, Andrew Garfield and Ken Watanabe joined the cast.[39] Garfield was cast as Father Rodrigues, one of the Jesuit priests, and Watanabe as the priests' translator.[40] In January 2014, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson joined the film, with Driver as Father Francisco Garupe, the second Jesuit priest, and Neeson as the priests' mentor, Father Cristóvão Ferreira.[41][42] In January 2015, Watanabe left the project due to schedule issues and was replaced by Tadanobu Asano.[43]

Principal photography took place in Taiwan from January 30 to May 15, 2015.[8][44]

On January 28, 2015, the production experienced an accident at Taiwan's CMPC Studios. According to a spokesperson for the film, "An existing structure on the CMPC backlot had been deemed unsafe by the production, and accordingly a third-party contractor was hired to reinforce and make it safe prior to any production-related work commencing in this building. During this process, the ceiling collapsed, resulting in the death of one of the contractor's employees and injuries to two others."[45]

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