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Liam Neeson to Star as a Jesuit Amid Persecution of Christians

This is interesting news. Hmmm. Martin Scorsese, the director behind The Last Temptation of Christ, is making a movie about Jesuits in the face of persecution in Japan.
The CS Monitor reports:

Actor Liam Neeson will reportedly star in the long-awaited adaptation of author Shusaku Endo’s novel “Silence,” which is set to be directed by Martin Scorsese.

“Silence” was first published in 1966 and follows a Jesuit missionary living in the seventeenth century who travels to Japan to investigate whether a priest there has renounced his religion. He and a fellow Jesuit arrive in the country and witness the persecution of Christians taking place there.

According to Deadline, Scorsese has been hoping to adapt the novel for some time, and now Neeson has joined the project to co-star with “The Amazing Spider-Man” actor Andrew Garfield and “Inception” actor Ken Watanabe.
Now, the book is a bit controversial so I'll be intrigued to hear what anyone who's read it has to say.

Spoiler Alert!!!

According to the Wikipedia site:
Rodrigues and Garpe are eventually captured and forced to watch as Japanese Christians lay down their lives for the faith. There is no glory in these martyrdoms, as Rodriguez had always imagined, but only brutality and cruelty. Prior to the arrival of Rodrigues, the authorities had been attempting to force priests to renounce their faith by torturing them. However, beginning with Fr. Ferreira, they tortured other Christians as the priests watch, telling the priests that all they must do is renounce their faith in order to end the suffering of their flock.

Rodrigues' journal depicts his struggles: he understands suffering for the sake of one's own faith; but he struggles over whether it is self-centered and unmerciful to refuse to recant when doing so will end another’s suffering. At the climactic moment, Rodriguez hears the moans of those who have recanted but are to remain in the pit until he tramples the image of Christ. As Rodrigues looks upon a fumie, Christ breaks his silence:


“Trample! Trample! I more than anyone know of the pain in your foot. Trample! It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.”

Rodrigues obeys, and the Christians are released.
The book seems to deal with the seeming silence of God in the face of atrocities.

I don't know much about it. Let me know what you guys know. Some of you are smarty pants reader types, right?


*subhead*Persecution.*subhead*

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20 comments:

Linda said...

It seems, to me, to be intended to "enlighten" the Mideast, African, and Asian Christians that they can - wink, wink - join Islam, without imperiling their immortal soul. In other words, use cinema to persuade those "primitive thinkers" that Christ will want them to go over to the Dark Side - SUCH a Progressive and Modern idea.

Pretty soon, no more Martyrs. Eventually, no more Christians.

For Sorcese and his ilk, win-win.

Rick said...

Here is a link to a good description of the book from a Catholic perspective. Endo (the author) was addressing a specific issue expereinced in Japan (all that matters is the external--what happens inside a person does not matter.
Endo was also extolling the humilty of God--the emptiness of God,m the one who did not grasp on to his equality with the Father. http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/dewey-endo.shtml

Rick said...

Here is a link to a good description of the book from a Catholic perspective. Endo (the author) was addressing a specific issue expereinced in Japan (all that matters is the external--what happens inside a person does not matter.
Endo was also extolling the humilty of God--the emptiness of God,m the one who did not grasp on to his equality with the Father. http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/dewey-endo.shtml

Admiror said...

I haven't read it but after reading about the novel and the author, I am interested in reading it. At the very least, this movie might raise awareness of the long history of Catholicism in Japan (concentrated in Nagasaki...in fact a good movie would be one about the life of Takashi Nagai who was a convert to Catholicism and helped people after the bomb was dropped there) and remind people about the reality of persecution. One of the great things about Catholic writers is that they deal with the presence of Christ in the world as it is, allowing them to show the effect of grace on the lives of the characters. They need God, even if they don't see it at first, and the effect of grace in their lives moves the action in the stories. I've found that many Christian writers from other denominations (except Orthodox writers like Dostoyevsky) tend to paint the world as more rosy and have heroes who are often more perfect from the start. We'll see what Scorsese does. If he doesn't spin the theme toward relativism, it could actually be a compelling movie that addresses questions about faith that many have without retreating to the modern position of 'well we just don't know.'

Maureen said...

I did read the book. I don't remember Christ saying to "trample" but I shared the agony of position the priest was put into. I was disappointed when he caved. I don't know what I would do.

Fr. Andrew said...

Martin Scorsese? What could go wrong? He has always handled matters of faith and morals with artistic delicacy. Except in his movies.

Robert said...

I've read the book. It's very disturbing. Like Maureen, I was disappointed when the priest "caved" and like Maureen, I don't know how I'd do in a similar situation. I wish the movie wasn't going to be done by Martin Scorses. It may very well be one of those books which shouldn't be made into a movie by anyone.

annem said...

I've read the book, and it's no surprise to me that "the Last Temptation of Christ" Scorese, who has mocked Catholicism, portrayed Catholicism as evil in movie after movie, wants to make a movie of the book.
This is not a book about two men who fail when enduring terrible suffering for the sake of their faith. No, the two Jesuits in the book are upset by the 'silence' of God in the face of suffering. Hello, Jesus Christ? We are supposed to believe neither ever heard that suffering is redemptive and God will draw good out of it?
Nor can they think of any answer to: is it all right to commit an evil if it might accomplish a good? Because, gee, no Catholic has ever had to deal with the question before? After all those centuries of persecution? And these are university trained Jesuits??
So they end up marrying and giving up Catholicism. Not just falling because they are afraid of suffering and don't want to die. No. They live out the rest of their lives as Japanese.
Of course this appeals to people who want to believe that Catholicism is simply too difficult, too impossible for anyone to live up to. That any rational person would, of course, choose the pleasures of this life instead of God.

Lynda said...

Ditto for films Liam Neeson generally chooses.

Lynda said...

As I expected. A stupid attempt to rationalise the abandonment of supernatural Faith. A Catholic priest who clearly had no supernatural Faith and continually attacks the Deposit of Faith and natural morality, once purported to teach me a course in Catholic Theology, wherein, as with all Catholic teaching, he ridiculed the possibility of receiving graces by choosing to offer ones suffering up to God. This priest had no Faith nor Hope.

Nan said...

It doesn't seem possible that Christ would say trample. Our true home is Heaven, not Earth; while it would be awful to watch the torture, remember that Our Lady offered St. Maximilian Kolbe a red crown and a white crown, asking which he wanted. He said both, martyrdom and purity. It isn't supposed to be easry.

Dale said...

Read the book, it's beautiful. There are different kinds of martyrdom. This is not the story of an apostate. It is the story of gods mercy and man's doubt in the in the midst of human suffering. It is a good book formCatholics to read, and if the movie is a faithful adaptation I will be happy to recommend it.

Dale said...

From a sympathetic Christian reviewer:
We should not be misled by the phrase, “Trample! Trample!” The original Japanese is in the permissive rather than the imperative mood, so that a better translation would be “You may trample. I allow you to trample.”

The entire review is worth reading, here:http://www.baylor.edu/christianethics/SufferingarticleDewey.pdf

Siobhan said...

I've read the book. It was complex, deep and disturbing. The priest was put into an incredibly painful situation. Jesus said, "Pray that you are not put to the test." This book is a good illustration of why that prayer is important.

Sophia's Favorite said...

@Dale: Is it? I doubt that, as the "potential" mood ("you can trample") is very, very seldom used to express permission, unlike in European languages. The usual way of expressing permission is to say "If you trampled, it would be good", which has the connotation of "should" as much as of "may"; and would not be something Christ would say, since it would be objectively wrong however little guilt was actually incurred due to the duress.

Endo is either making excuses, or simply writing about failure; I have not read the work to see how it portrays it. Whichever his motivations, the motivations of Scorsese and Hollywood are much more transparent. You could make a movie about the devastation Judaism experienced from the despair of the Holocaust, and with lots more source material (it's practically its own sub-discipline in religious scholarship), but you wouldn't make that movie, because everyone would think you were an anti-Semite psycho, and they would be right.

Cristina Montes said...

I've read the book, it's excellent as literature -- very complex -- but I would not recommend it to someone whose formation in the faith is inadequate. My interpretation of the ending is what Rick expressed in his comment. Then there's an epilogue where Fr. Rodrigues, already an apostate but technically still a priest, hears the confession of another Japanese who has apostatized. I read the book as an attempt of the author to grapple with the supposed failure of Christianity to take root in Japan. That said, I prefer Shusaku Endo's other novel, "The Samurai" which also grapples with the same issue but has a more satisfying and less ambiguous ending.

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