By Martin Roth, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent
TOKYO/TAIPEI (BosNewsLife)– Renowned movie director Martin Scorsese has released initial details of his forthcoming movie “Silence,” about the persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century, and God’s perceived silence in suffering.
Starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Adam Driver and Ciarán Hinds, it is based on the celebrated 1966 historical novel of the same name by Japanese Christian writer Shusaku Endo.
It tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuits who travel to Japan to investigate the well being of a fellow priest. Speaking at a press conference in Taiwan, where he has been filming the movie, Scorsese told journalists that he wanted to make the movie for many years.
“The subject matter presented by Shusaku Endo was in my life since I was very young,” he explained. “I was very much involved in religion. I was raised in a strong Catholic family.”
Under the guidance of Portuguese missionaries, Christianity began to flourish in Japan during the 16th century, even gaining the endorsement and protection of the country’s military rulers, the shoguns.
But suspicions that missionaries might be spies eventually led to a change of heart by the shoguns, and a period of harsh persecution began, with the aim of the total eradication of Christianity from Japan.
This saw the emergence of the “kakure kirishitan” (hidden Christians), who maintained their practices in secret for more than 200 years.
Much of Endo’s novel is based on these underground groups and their efforts to hold onto their faith in Jesus Christ despite some of the worst persecution of Christians that the world had witnessed since Roman times.
The Scorsese movie is set for release in late-2015 or early-2016.