Silence is Golden

“This was already a peasant face that would, in time, come to resemble that of Mokichi and Ichizo. This child, also, would grow up like its parents and grandparents; to eke out a miserable existence, face to face with the Black Sea in this cramped and desolate land. It, too, would live like a beast and – like a beast – it would die.” — Shusaku Endo, Silence.

I read Shusaku Endo’s Silence a couple of years ago and often recall its fluent prose and stirring imagery to this day. It’s one of the few novels to have stuck with me and – like many – I’ve been awaiting Scorsese’s adaptation with bated breath. I wrote about it at the beginning of last year when a tentative 2015 release was floating around, but while that didn’t materialize, after a prolonged twenty-six year production, the film is finally just around the corner. Here’s the long awaited trailer…

Silence tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries who travel to Japan in search of their lost mentor after hearing of his apparent apostasy. Set in 1639, Silence occurs at a time when Japan was strictly closed off to foreigners and Christianity was forcibly outlawed, with followers frequently tortured and brutally murdered.

The cinematography looks stunning – the Taiwanese landscapes doubling up for Japan – and the footage thus far evokes the novel well. I’m incredibly excited for the cast, too. Many will likely be discussing Garfield, Driver and Neeson, but personally I’m also very interested in seeing Yōsuke Kubozuka, who will play the important and memorable role of Kichijiro, a sort of bumbling companion to the missionaries. I have very fond memories of him as the energetic table tennis prodigy Peco in Fumhiko Sori’s Ping Pong, a 2002 adaptation of a manga by Taiyo Matsumoto. He was one of my favourite aspects of the movie, so I can’t wait to see how he performs in a role so entirely different.

Silence will open with a limited release in the U.S. on December 23rd, before expanding worldwide in January. It premieres this month at the Vatican to an audience of several hundred Jesuit priests.

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