Persecuted Japanese Christians the Theme of New Scorsese Movie

Renowned movie director Martin Scorsese has released initial details of his forthcoming movie “Silence,” which has as its theme the persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century, and God’s silence in the face of suffering.

Starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Adam Driver and Ciarán Hinds, it is based on the celebrated 1966 historical novel of the same name by Japanese Christian writer Shusaku Endo.

It tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuits who journey to Japan to investigate the well being of a fellow priest.

Speaking at a press conference in Taiwan, where he has been filming the movie, Scorsese told journalists that he had been wanting to make the movie for many years.

“The subject matter presented by Shusaku Endo was in my life since I was very young,” he said. “I was very much involved in religion. I was raised in a strong Catholic family.”

Under the guidance of Portuguese missionaries, Christianity began to flourish in Japan during the 16th century, even gaining the endorsement and protection of the country’s military rulers, the shoguns.

But suspicions that the missionaries might be spies eventually led to a change of heart by the shoguns, and a period of harsh persecution began, with the aim of the total eradication of the religion from Japan.

This saw the emergence of the kakure kirishitan (hidden Christians), who maintained their practices in secret for more than 200 years. Much of Endo’s novel is based on these underground groups and their efforts to hold onto their faith in the face of some of the worst persecution of Christians that the world had witnessed since Roman times.

The Scorsese movie is set for release in late-2015 or early-2016.

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