Fuller Theological Seminary, located in Pasadena, CA, recently hosted the film director Martin Scorsese in a private screening and interview session that took place at the Laemmle’s Playhouse on January 7.
The event featured a screening of Scorsese’s recent film, “Silence,” which follows the story of Jesuit missionaries who try to build the church in Japan in the 17th century, based on a Japanese novel by Shūsaku Endō published in 1966. Makoto Fujimura, Christian artist and director of Fuller’s Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, was a consultant to Scorsese for the film, and was also present during the screening event.
“I hoped this film would reach you, Fuller; you, the religious community,” Scorsese said at the screening. “But I also hoped it was wider than that and not that narrow.”
Scorsese also praised Fujimura, saying he “is a remarkable artist and writer.” Fujimura wrote a book which records his own reflections on Endō’s novel, called “Silence and Beauty,” which Scorsese described a “quietly eloquent meditation on art and faith, and where they converge.”
“It has been an honor to advise Mr. Scorsese on this film ‘Silence’ as a special advisor,” Fujimura said. “This film truly honors Endō and the martyrs of the Japanese past; it is a profound gift given to the generations to come.”
Scorsese, who grew up Catholic, had the idea of making “Silence” after reading and being captivated by Endō’s novel, which sold some 800,000 copies in Japan. At the interview session in Pasadena, Scorsese said he hoped “Silence” would pose for the audience questions such as, “What does it mean to live a daily Christian life? How does one, if they are not able to or are not clergy, how does one express and live a true Christian life?”
In another interview with the Los Angeles Times, Scorsese said one of his greatest mentors was a priest at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York.
“I couldn’t understand how he let go his pride in order to serve. In a way, ‘Silence’ is an attempt to work through that question almost 60 years later. Because that’s the very thing Rodrigues is struggling with as well,” said Scorsese. Father Sebastião Rodrigues is the main character in the story.
Scorsese’s filmography includes works such as “Mean Streets,” “Good Fellas,” “Shutter Island,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Scorsese had directed another film related to Christianity in 1988, called “The Last Temptation of Christ.”
Meanwhile, the private screening and interview was coordinated through the film arm of Fuller’s Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, called ‘Reel Spirituality.’ The interview session was moderated by Kutter Callaway, assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller.