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Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs

2/19/2009 - 16:12 PST

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Based on Novel About Portuguese Missionary

TOKYO (Zenit) - An Academy Award-winning director is planning a movie on Japanese Christians martyred in the 17th century.

Martin Scorsese will film the movie in New Zealand and release it in 2010, according to the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun. Names of actors linked to the project include Daniel Day-Lewis, Gael García Bernal and Benicio Del Toro.

Scorsese is known for his work on films including "The Age of Innocence," "The Departed," "Gangs of New York," "Casino" and the controversial "The Last Temptation of Christ."

The film on the Japanese martyrs is based on the book "Chinmoku" (Silence), by the Catholic Japanese author Shusaku Endo. The novel tells the story of a Portuguese missionary in Japan at the beginnings of the 17th century. "Silence" refers to the silence of God before the cross of Christ, in telling of the missionary's forced apostasy in the midst of horrendous torture.

Endo (1923-1997) was baptized at age 12. His novels reflect his effort to show Christianity reconciled with Oriental culture, as well as his vision of human weakness, sin and grace. Among his other writings are "A Life of Jesus" and "Deep River," in which he tries to present Christianity to the Asian mentality.

Last Dec. 10, almost 200 Japanese martyrs from the same era as the plot of "Silence" were canonized. Japan is today less than 1% Christian, of which only about 450,000 are Catholics.

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Keywords

Movie, Japanese

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1 - 5 of 5 Comments

  1. Joe
    4 years ago

    I don't know anything about the book but the idea of Scorsese doing a movie having anything to do with Christianity puts me off. He always portrays Christians, even Christ Himself, in an insulting way. What amazes me is that he can then make a movie like "Kundun" about the Dalai Lama which is respectful, honest and sympathetic. If only he would show the same tact with his own (former) religion as he does for others this might be a decent film.

  2. Tom
    5 years ago

    Maria,
    I agree with Ms.Nancy's comment. He had been criticized not a few Catholics since his writings made significant bias, disturbing "proper" understandings for Catholic doctrines.

  3. Nancy
    5 years ago

    Endo's book was quite disturbing; rather than representing the true martyrs of Japan, he chose to create an apostate priest as his protagonist. This story is an insult to those who lost their lives defending their faith in the persecutions in Japan. We need to spotlight the stories of those true heroes of faith, not Endo's justification of apostacy. Don't count on Scorcese to tell their story any more accurately than he told the biblical truth in "The Last Temptation of Christ."

  4. Joan Jeffrey
    5 years ago

    I found this article very helpful. I am a Religious Education teacher in Chicago. I am always looking for material on lives of the saints to show to my students.

  5. chaynes
    5 years ago

    This has wonderful potential. The story of St Paul Miki is a great one. He was crucified at Nagasaki in 1597.

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