Scorsese Religious Epic SILENCE Set For Awards Season Run

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Andrew Garfield‘s next two films are each passion projects by Mel Gibson and Martin Scorsese – directors known for their stark violent content – and in both he’ll play a Christian on a mission.

Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge has been well-publicized (and likely will continue to be, leading up to its November 4 release), but Scorsese’s film wrapped shooting as far back as May 2015, with no release date set.

Well that’s changed. Silence – a film that has been shaved from a 5-hour to a 4-hour to a 3-hour-plus run time – will be released by Paramount Pictures in a limited Oscar-qualifying run on December 23, 2016 before expanding in January 0f 2017.

Set in 17th Century Japan, Silence is an epic about two Jesuit Portuguese Catholic priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) that face violent persecution when they travel to Nagasaki to seek out their mentor (Liam Neeson, who shed over 20 pounds for the role) who has been on a mission to spread Christianity. It’s based on a 1966 novel by Shūsaku Endō, a late Japanese author who – in a cultural anomaly – was Roman Catholic. (Scorsese is also Roman Catholic.)

Discussing the film, which he’s been developing since 1991, Scorsese said, “The very nature of secularism right now is really fascinating to me but, at the same time, do you wipe away what could be more enriching in your life, which is an appreciation or some sort of search for that which is spiritual and transcends? Silence is just something that I’m drawn to in that way…it’s a strong, wonderful true story, a thriller in a way, but it deals with those questions.”

Putting a much finer point on why he’s making it, Scorsese added, “It’s been an obsession, it has to be done.”

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