An early look at Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited ‘Silence’ was stunning and brutal

Silence paramount final
‘Silence.’ Paramount

It looks like Martin Scorsese’s two-decade journey to make “Silence” may have been worth the wait.

Business Insider was among the group of outlets invited Thursday night to a presentation by Paramount Pictures of its upcoming titles, and the studio showed off footage of the much-anticipated “Silence.”

Though the footage was extremely brief — less than a minute, and it didn’t include any dialogue — what was front and center was the striking visual work by Rodrigo Prieto (who shot Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”). Wide shots of waves crashing on shorelines were breathtaking. And some shots also showed the brutality of the movie, including one shot of men in agony as they hanged on crosses.

The movie — which stars Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver — follows Jesuit priests in 17th-century Japan as they face violence and persecution. It’s based on the 1966 Shûsaku Endô novel, and adapted for the screen by Scorsese’s longtime collaborator Jay Cocks (“Gangs of New York”).

“Silence” opens in limited release December 23 and will go wide in January 2017 and is widely favoured in the Oscar race.

The half-hour presentation, which took place at Paramount’s offices in New York City’s Times Square, also teased footage for its sci-fi movie “Arrival” (opening November 11), starring Amy Adams; Robert Zemeckis’ WWII drama “Allied” (November 23), starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard; the ensemble comedy “Office Christmas Party” (December 9), starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, and Kate McKinnon; the adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” (March, 2017), starring Scarlett Johansson; and “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” (January, 2017), starring Vin Diesel.

But our favourite footage shown was for Denzel Washington’s “Fences.” The actor stars in and directs the adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson. Washington and Viola Davis reprise the roles they played in the 2010 Broadway revival that follows a father (Washington) struggling to raise a family in 1950s race-torn America.

The footage, around a few minutes long, was the most powerful of anything shown in the presentation and was a great tease of Washington’s performance that could be Oscar-worthy.

“Fences” opens in theatres Christmas Day.

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