Silence, Martin Scorcese’s next film, will reunite him with Gangs of New York star Liam Neeson (the first 15 minutes of that film is one of my favorite openings of all-time) as well as Andrew Garfield and Ken Watanabe. The film will be an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about 17th century Jesuits who to try bring Christianity to isolated Japan. Scorsese has been trying to make this movie since 1991. It promises to be extremely different in tone than his recent films.Andrew Garfield will play “Father Rodrigues, a 17th-century Portuguese Jesuit who travels to Japan with a fellow priest amid rumors that Rodrigues’ mentor has abandoned the Church. It is a moment of religious persecution in the Asian nation, with Christians forced to practice their faith clandestinely. Watanabe will portray the priests’ interpreter.” Neeson he will play the mentor, Fr. Cristóvão Ferreira.
Young Portuguese Jesuit, Sebastião Rodrigues (based on the historical figure Giuseppe Chiara) is sent to Japan to succor the local Church and investigate reports that his mentor, Fr. Cristóvão Ferreira, has committed apostasy. (Ferreira is a historical figure, who apostatized after torture and later became a Zen monk and wrote a treatise against Christianity.)
Fr. Rodrigues and his companion Fr. Francisco Garrpe arrive in Japan in 1638. There they find the local Christian population driven underground. Security officials force suspected Christians to trample on fumie, which are crudely carved images of Christ. Those who refuse are imprisoned and killed by anazuri (穴吊り), being hung upside down over a pit and slowly bled. Those Christians who do step on the image to stay hidden are deeply shamed by their act of apostasy.