Newsbites: Silence! Marketing Narnia! Pope!

Newsbites: Silence! Marketing Narnia! Pope! November 20, 2005

Time for some more newsbites.

1. reports that Martin Scorsese‘s next film will be an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s Silence, which “concerns a pair of 17th century Portuguese missionaries who choose to go to Japan to preach Christianity to Japanese converts even though the religion has been outlawed, and violators face a death penalty.”

FWIW, I have not read Endo’s book myself, but I have seen at least one other film on this subject. To quote an article I wrote on the local film festival for the October 22, 1996 issue of ChristianWeek:

The Eyes of Asia, from Portuguese director João Mário Grilo, goes back to 17th century Japan to tell the story of Julian of Nakaura, a Japanese Jesuit priest who was tortured to death for refusing to renounce his faith. Grilo mixes the historical narrative with a modern “story” in which a European (Geraldine Chaplin) visits Nagasaki and learns the story of Julian’s martyrdom from the priests who keep his memory alive.

The cross-cutting between these two timeframes feels a little awkward at times, but Julian’s faith is treated respectfully … except, perhaps, for a curious epilogue which gives the last word to Cristovao Ferreira, the Jesuit provincial who succumbed to torture, renounced his faith, and spent the last 20 years of his life working for the shogun. In this last scene, Grilo seems to question whether the Jesuits should have ever come to Japan in the first place, despite the obvious joy he lets Julian show in his Christian faith.

2. The Hollywood Reporter has an item up on how the new Narnia movie will be marketed via McDonald’s and Honey Nut Cheerios — but in a way that “highlights the book’s literary heritage” — while Reuters reports that Tilda Swinton, who plays the White Witch but has never read the book, was careful not to offend a young fan:

But when the issue of religion surfaced at Thursday’s promotional event, Swinton played it safe. Asked by one child if her character Jadis, the White Witch, represented Satan, the actress answered: “You can read it however you want, and it can grow in your mind. So, I can be whatever you want me to be.”

3. Pope Benedict XVI recently attended a Vatican screening of the new TV mini-series Pope John Paul II, in which the title character, and Benedict’s predecessor, is played by Cary Elwes and Jon Voight. See the Associated Press, Reuters, and Reuters again.

4. The American Film Institute is compiling another list of 100 films, focusing this time on “America’s most inspiring movies”. See the Associated Press, The Hollywood Reporter and E! Online.

5. Attorneys general from 32 states are petitioning movie studios to put anti-smoking propaganda on all their DVDs, or at least the ones that feature people smoking. Great — as if there weren’t enough ads and PSAs and legal tut-tutting at the beginning of most DVDs as it is. See Reuters and the Associated Press.

6. Plans to distribute James “Scotty” Doohan‘s ashes in space have been postponed for — what else? — engineering reasons. Seems rocket engine tests might push the launch back to February. See Reuters and E! Online.

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