The one and only Martin Scorsese visited the AFI Campus recently to discuss making his spiritual epic SILENCE (an AFI AWARDS 2016 Official Selection), the master filmmaker’s decades-long labor of love that explores apostasy and crises of faith in 17th-century Japan. The film features Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuit missionaries dispatched to Japan to locate a fellow priest gone rogue, played by Liam Neeson.
“Obviously, these themes and ideas and concepts are very much the foundation of my life. The formation began, in a way, at a very early age, so I’ve never really lost interest in that or the urge to keep searching,” Scorsese told AFI Conservatory Fellows, referencing his religious films THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988) and KUNDUN (1997). SILENCE is based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel of the same name. “Reading the book… The whole idea of this apostasy, why did it seem like a victory rather than a defeat?” Scorsese said, explaining one of the film’s central questions.
Scorsese also discussed the future of cinema with Fellows. “I do feel that cinema, for the first hundred years, has been within this proscenium…but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way,” he said. “You have this unlimited technology; you can do anything. I’m the product of a certain place in time. You’re younger, it’s very different, and it’s up to you to reinvent it and use any form you want… The one thing that keeps you human is your story, and it has to be from a personal vision. It has to come from a personal truth that is different from making a product.”
Watch a clip below in which Scorsese discusses how he was forced to re-think how to film a particular scene in SILENCE.