» 07/28/2014, 00.00
Filming begins’ on Martin Scorsese epic on Christian mission in Japan
The film, in preparation for years, tells the story of a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who became an apostate and collaborated in the persecution of Christians. Lay and religious experts involved, especially the Jesuits. The impact on the Japanese Church. Actors include Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield ("Spiderman").
Taipei (AsiaNews) -
As of September, renowned director Martin Scorsese will be in
Taiwan to begin work on his next film
on Christian mission in Japan during the seventeenth century. The film, already in the program for
several years, is based on a bestselling novel by a Catholic Japanese
"Silence" was written by Japanese Shusako
Endo (1923-1996) in
1966. It is based on the story of
Tome Ferreira (1580-1650), a Portuguese Jesuit missionary,
provincial of the mission of Japan,
who renounced the
Christian faith under torture in order to save the group
of Christians arrested with him. His apostasy, however, had dire consequences when he was forced to cooperate
in denouncing other Christians on Japanese territory.
Many secular and religious experts are involved in Scorsese's
epic. From US jesuit James Martin,
of the magazine 'America' to Renzo de Luca - an
Argentine Jesuit who has spent decades
in Japan and is director of the Museum
of the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki.
De Lucia has already met the director and had many length discussions with him about the project. Others
involved include professors of Japanese
culture and history from
different universities in Taiwan
and Japanese experts who have already prepared detailed historical presentations, for the director's
team, on the Japan of the seventeenth century.
One of the catalysts in realizing this endeavor was the Kuangchi Program Advisory Service
in Taipei (光启 社), the
film and television production company
belonging to the Society of Jesus,
especially thanks to Father Jerry Martinson (丁松筠 神父), a
US native like Scorsese, but in Asia for nearly 50
years where he is universally
known for his expertise in TV production. Fr. Jerry's vast network of contacts has greatly facilitated
Fr. Antoni Üçerler -
Jesuit professor of Japanese history at Sophia University in Tokyo and the University of
San Francisco in California - has been called in by Scorsese as a consultant to the historical aspects
of the context on the Japanese society and
the mission of the Society of Jesus
during the period of the great
He says that "pre-production on the
film turned out to be quite
a lengthy process
- at least eight or ten years - several contracts with very different actors were put forward".
Fr. Üçerler has already had several meetings with the pre-production
team as well as with Benicio del Toro, part
of the cast at that time. Because of the
slowness in pre-production and constant delays, the original cast later withdrew, and other prominent actors like Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield
(the young protagonist of the last
series spider-Man made by Sony Columbia) came onboard.
"My concern - Fr. Üçerler continues - is how the entire project will affect the Japanese
Church: What kind of movie will
it be in the end? It has to really immerse itself in
Japanese culture, down to the tiniest
detail and scenic arts: the Japanese are attentive
to the tiniest details in their soap operas set in that
time, we hope that this production will live up to the Scorsese reputation".
"But the most important thing
- he concludes - is to penetrate into the core of the drama and the message therein.
Both the real-life story, and the novel (which are, however, different) are something that require the greatest attention not only from us Jesuits, but every
Christian. It goes deep into this drama of apostasy, and
then from the tragedy of resulting from
persecution, the realization of the fact
that God is still greater than
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