Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, “Silence,” tells the story of 17th century Jesuit missionaries in Japan. Father James Martin, a Jesuit, was a consultant and believes that the director of “Taxi Driver” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” was inspired by the Holy Spirit to direct a movie that “is like a prayer.”
Although it’s not being released until December 22, Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, Silence, already has had its world premiere, in what some might see as an odd environment for the mind behind movies such as Taxi Driver and The Wolf of Wall Street: A room full of 300 Jesuit priests.
The event took place in Rome last week, and a day later, the famed director got to meet with Pope Francis, a Jesuit himself, at the Vatican.
The reason behind the Church-buzz around the movie is simple: it follows the trials and tribulations of 17th century Portuguese Jesuit missionaries, played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, as they go to Japan looking for their fallen mentor, played by Liam Neeson.
Silence, 30 years in the making according to Scorsese, is based on a 1966 book with the same name by Catholic convert Japanese Writer Shusaku Endo.
“He was the most disarming…everything was fine,” Scorsese said of meeting Francis during a screening of the film in the States. “He was smiling and thanked us for being there.”
The pope told Scorsese that he had read the 1966 novel on which the film was based.” (Pope Francis) did say, I hope the story of the film, knowing the book, bears much fruit,” Scorsese said.
During the past two years, Jesuit Father James Martin, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, was heavily involved in the process, working as a consultant on the script to make sure its portrayal of the members of the Society of Jesus, as the order founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola is named, was accurate.
He also worked closely with the actors, particularly Garfield, whom he led through the St. Ignatius spiritual exercises. The actor did the 30-day retreat over a six-month period, and has spoken about it several times.
For instance, he told The New York Times: “On retreat, you enter into your imagination to accompany Jesus through his life from his conception to his crucifixion and resurrection. You are walking, talking, praying with Jesus, suffering with him. And it’s devastating to see someone who has been your friend, whom you love, be so brutalized.”
Crux caught up with Martin while he was in Rome for the presentation of the movie to his brother Jesuits. What follows are excerpts of that conversation, touching on the filming process, the transformation of the actors and the impact the movie could have on those watching it.
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