LOS ANGELES Twenty-eight years in the making, Martin Scorsese's "Silence" premiered on Thursday, raising questions of faith over both the subject matter and in Scorsese's dedication to the project.
"Overwhelming that you would be asked to journey with him on this kind of adventure of the soul that he's been willing to take for the last 28 years, and to be given this role...was confusing and humbling," said actor Andrew Garfield.
In "Silence", Garfield plays Sebastiao Rodrigues, a 17th century Portuguese Jesuit priest who travels to Japan with a fellow missionary in search of their mentor, Father Cristovao Ferreira, portrayed by Liam Neeson, who has renounced his faith under torture.
The priests arrive in Japan at a time when Catholicism is outlawed, and face violence and persecution in their evangelizing mission, which causes a crisis of faith.
The epic historical drama is based on the acclaimed 1966 novel of the same name by late Japanese writer Shusaku Endo and was shot in Taiwan.
Scorsese has said he was struck by the questions the book raises over faith, doubt, weakness and God's role in the face of human suffering. However, getting the screenplay right alone took the Oscar-winning director 15 years, and finding funding proved difficult.
The film, which runs for an unusually long 2 hours and 45 minutes, has not been included in the nominations for either the Golden Globes or the Screen Actors Guild this year.
(Reporting by Reuters Television, Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Nick Macfie)