Will Martin Scorsese Ever Give Us Some Silence?

To be frank, I hope nobody tries to make another movie of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence.

The experience of reading this novel is so harrowing, so moving, that I would prefer to have people experience the story on the page, and in their own imaginations, rather than have them spend two hours watching how someone else pictured it. Participating in this novel, and living in it for a while, by reading it… it’s an incredibly personal experience.

Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder what Martin Scorsese would do, bringing it to the big screen as he has wanted to for so many years. He has repeatedly declared that Silence would be his next movie. With casting underway and locations being discussed, it certainly looked like it would be his follow-up to Hugo.

But then, things changed again. Now he’s making The Wolf of Wall Street.

At first, a lot of Scorsese fans and admirers of Endo’s novel groaned, disappointed that they would once again have to wait to see what is becoming one of the most talked-about unmade movies of the last 20 years.

But this time, things are getting worse.

Breaking news: Scorsese’s producer is suing him. Deadline reports:

Cecchi Gori Pictures and Cecchi Gori USA filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court today against director Martin Scorsese and his production company Sikelia Productions. Cecchi Gori says it invested more than $750,000 to develop the book Silenceinto a feature film based on contracts and assurances by Scorsese and Sikelia that it would be Scorsese’s next project.

Oh my.

Look, I could join the host of bloggers and journalists in analyzing this and picking sides, but I don’t like getting all caught up in the behind-the-scenes drama. I care too much about Endo’s story… I don’t want a bunch of show-biz bickering on my mind when I think of it.

So here’s what I recommend…

Ignore the big brouhaha over who’s suing whom, what was promised, etc.

This is your chance. Read the book. Read it slowly, share it with your friends, and discuss it. Those of you who read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road before the dissatisfying movie arrived know what I’m talking about. Contemplate Endo’s vision before someone else’s celebrity-loaded interpretation delivers the story differently and prevents millions of moviegoers from seeing the story unfold the way Endo meant for it to be experienced.

As Dr. Luke Reinsma, my friend and mentor at Seattle Pacific University, wrote:

Silence is an extraordinarily haunting novel. Although it is never a comfortable read, in its deceptive simplicity it is as stark and unyielding, as elegant and lean as the lines of a Japanese print. Without ever moralizing, it is an intensely moral book as well. And, like all great works of literature, it hovers in a middle ground, taut with expectation, caught in the tension between West and East, answer and question, logic and intuition, strength and weakness, hope and loss. It is, in short, a novel for most of us, most of the time, as we wend our way between heaven and earth with our longing souls and our feet of clay.


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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Bethany

    One of the most profoundly uncomfortable and challenging novels I’ve ever read.
    I sincerely hope the movie gets made and I hope it’s made by Scorcese because it needs to be made by someone with incredible talent and vision. I’m not AS obsessive of a Scorcese fan as some but I think he could handle it.

    Normally I am opposed to reading a book before seeing a movie. I think it colors my view of the movie too much and I end up being too critical when I don’t want to be. But in this case, you’re probably right. That first experience is one people should have.