Respected filmmaker Martin Scorsese met with Pope Francis to discuss the director's new movie "Silence", which focuses on the persecution of Christian missionaries in 17th Century Japan.
The pope met Scorsese, his wife and two daughters at the Vatican on Wednesday and discussed Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel that inspired the film, according to The Guardian. During the 15-minute meeting, Pope Francis gave his visitors rosaries, while Scorsese presented the Pope with framed pictures of the Virgin of Nagasaki and a portrait of the "martyrs of Japan".
The film, which hits theaters December 23, tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests, played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor Liam Neeson, who renounced the faith under torture at the hands of the Japanese regime.
The Guardian notes that the theme of the film, which was shot entirely in Taipei, Taiwan, is close to the pontiff's heart: When Francis was young, he joined a Jesuit order with the aim of becoming a missionary in Asia. However, he was unable to serve as a missionary due to health problems.
Scorsese, a devout Catholic, has referred to "Silence" as his "passion project". The director posted the trailer to the highly anticipated film on his official Facebook page and said, "It's been a 28-year journey of mine to bring Shusaku Endo's story to theaters and now it's almost here."
Time Magazine notes that the meeting was significant, as Scorsese's 1988 film "The Last Temptation of Christ" was was deemed blasphemous and "morally offensive" by the Catholic Church and was banned in many cinemas and countries, including Pope Francis's homeland of Argentina.
The film, which premiered November 29, was also screened before 300 Jesuit priests in Rome. James Martin, S.J., editor of America Magazine and a consultant for the film, reported that the Jesuits were deeply moved by the film. "You could hear a pin drop by the end."
In a November interview with Time Magazine, Garfield shared the tremendous impact the film had on him - both personally and spiritually: "I was prepping for a year," he said. "I underwent this spiritually transformative process that St. Ignatius created-a retreat where you meditate and imaginatively walk with Jesus through his life, from birth to resurrection. My experience was very personal."
He added, "Hopefully we're dying on the cross every day and being resurrected in a truer way every day. That's the idea, for me-the old self being shed in order for the truer self to emerge."