Martin Scorsese’s Silence will have its world premiere screening at the Vatican.
The screening will be held at the Pontifical Oriental Institute for the Jesuits, and the director is planning to attend along with approximately 400 priests and guests. According to The Guardian, Pope Francis is not expected to attend. When asked by The New York Times how he’d describe the film to the pontiff, Scorsese said, “I would say that I’ve tried, in my work, to find out how to live life — tried to explore what our existence really is and the meaning of it.”
Silence is adapted from a novel by Japanese author Shusaku Endo, and was penned by Scorsese and Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York). The story follows two Christian missionaries (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who search for their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) and spread the word of God in Japan at a time when Christianity was outlawed.
Scorsese’s earlier religious drama, 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ, wasn’t so warmly welcomed by a religious institution: Bishop Anthony G. Bosco, a spokesman for the U.S. Catholic Church, said, “I looked in vain for the message of love. Scorsese has given us an angry Christ, a bumbling Christ, a Christ more of this world than the next.”
The filmmaker has been trying to adapt Silence for more than 25 years at this point, and he told reporters last year, “The subject matter presented by Shusaku Endo was in my life since I was very, very young. I was very much involved in religion, I was raised in a strong Catholic family. … Further reflection is how [we] want to lead our life in the Christian faith … so ultimately this book drew my attention when it was given to me in 1988.”
Silence will premiere with a limited release starting Dec. 23 before going wide in January.