Though he is easily the filmmaker most identified with Catholicism, in recent years Martin Scorsese has publicly self-identified as a “lapsed Catholic”. So why make this film? He’s famously been trying to make it happen for the better part of thirty years. If he were still a man of Faith one might understand the single-minded pursuit of bringing this story to the screen. Absent that, what could possibly have carried him through all the years, accidents and lawsuits? What else could engender that much devotion in a man? While I cannot say for certain, I feel that it was Scorsese’s passion for the art of cinema that kept this project alive for him over the decades.
For a while it seemed as though Scorsese had joined his peers in apostatizing celluloid by shooting multiple features digitally, and theatrical exhibition by working in television. He even directed a promo for a movie themed resort in Macau. Yet in spite of such seemingly heretical gestures, here comes Silence. At 161 minutes it is certainly not a YouTube video and the 35mm photography by Rodrigo Prieto is as gorgeous you might expect. It seems as though Padre Scorsese has not lost the faith after all. Like Catholicism, cinephilia is something that simply cannot just be given up. Despite many outward signs, it’s always there, just under the surface.