At a press event in Taipei on Monday, Scorsese spoke of the long journey to making the film, which is based on Shusaku Endo’s novel “Silence” about God’s silence in the face of human suffering. Scorsese had prepared a draft of the screenplay as early as 1992, but said that the origins were deeper still.
“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,” Scorsese said.
While the book is set in 17th century Japan, Scorsese located the production in Taiwan, following an introduction by Ang Lee. It was entirely shot in the territory with various locations in Taipei (Yangmingshan, CMPC Studio and the Beitou area), as well as Taichung and Hualien.
“I’m known for making films that are urban, that take place mainly in apartments, hotels, bars or churches, for the most part, but to be able to sit and watch a scene with birds and animals has been an immersion into another world,” Scorsese said.
The cast includes Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Japanese star Asano Tadanobu (“Thor,” “Battleship”). “It kind of feels like we live here now,” said Garfield, wearing a coat he had purchased in a local night market.
“Silence” received subsidy and production support from the Taipei City Government and Taipei Film Commission, and was partly financed by Catchplay, which is the film’s distributor in Taiwan. International sales are by IM Global.
Other Hollywood productions that have recently shot in Taipei include Luc Besson’s “Lucy” and Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.”