In 1991, Martin Scorsese began planning to adapt the 1966 Japanese novel Silence into a movie. Since then he’s gotten close to making his dream picture with such actors as Daniel Day-Lewis, Benicio Del Toro, and Gael García Bernal. But even a lawsuit over how long it took to make the movie didn’t deter Scorsese from making his passion project.
“My initial interests in life were very strongly formed by what I took seriously at that time, and 45-50 years ago I was steeped in the Roman Catholic religion. As you get older, ideas go and come. Questions, answers, loss of the answer again and more questions, and this is what really interests me,” he told Deadline in 2011. “Silence is just something that I’m drawn to in that way. It’s been an obsession, it has to be done and now is the time to do it. It’s a strong, wonderful true story, a thriller in a way, but it deals with those questions.”
And Silence has all of those Scorsese characteristics. It stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as 17th century Portuguese Jesuits who travel to Japan to find their missing mentor (Liam Neeson), who is there spreading Christianity. Set at a time when Christianity was outlawed, Neeson has abandoned the faith, and the trailer shows Garfield and Driver questioning their faith while in Japan (complete with terrifying crucifixions by the sea).
Garfield and Driver both apparently put in some intense studying to get their characters right—seeing numerous dialect coaches and basically becoming Catholic priests.
The film is set to be released on Christmas to make it eligible for awards season. They just needed to cut it down from its original three-hour run time first.