The first footage of Martin Scorsese’s major awards contender Silence has been released, in the form of a 130 second trailer ahead of its world premiere at the Vatican next week.
Silence, which features Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuit missionaries risking torture and execution to spread Christianity in 17th century Japan, is adapted from a novel by Shusaku Endo.
Scorsese himself wrote the screenplay, along with regular collaborator Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York, Age of Innocence).
The trailer appears to sum up its narrative straightforwardly: Garfield and Driver prepare for the hazardous trip to search for their mentor, played by Liam Neeson; once in Japan, they are afflicted by doubt over the price they are asking local converts to pay in standing up for their faith.
The trailer dwells on the Japanese practice of executing Christians via crucifixion, including the notorious mizuharitsuke, or water crucifixion.
Scorsese, famously, was brought up a Catholic and had intended to become a priest before becoming a film-maker: this religious impulse has registered directly in some of his previous films, such as The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun, and more obliquely in the likes of Mean Streets, Bringing Out the Dead and Gangs of New York.
Silence appears to be a summary of Scorsese’s own experience of faith.
Silence will be released on December 23 in the US.