Memo to Marty Scorsese: Why In God's Name Are You Still Interested In Making Silence?
After reading the statement that Martin Scorsese's representatives released in response to the lawsuit that's been filed against him by Cecchi Gori Pictures over a project called Silence, I think I can save both sides a bundle in lawyer's fees and, ultimately, production costs. (If it could actually ever be financed.)
Both sides of this legal battle should ask themselves a pertinent question: Do you actually think that this movie, if it's ever made, will actually put asses in seats?
Hear me out. Scorsese is one of my favorite filmmakers, and given his obsession with religion, I'm confident he'd make a compelling adaptation of Silence, an acclaimed 1966 Shusaku Endo novel about a Jesuit investigating whether his mentor committed apostasy — renounced his beliefs — at a time when Christians were faced with the prospect of being hung upside down over a pit and slowly bled to death if they refused.
The Christians are essentially coerced into renouncing their faith by stepping on fumie,crudely carved wooden images of Jesus Christ.
Heard enough? Look, movies about the strength of one's beliefs and God's relationship with humanity can be powerful. One of the aspects of Prometheus that I particularly loved was how Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof explored those very deep concepts in their sci-fi blockbuster earlier this summer.
Silence doesn't sound powerful to me, though. It sounds like a ponderous slog that covers territory Scorsese already traversed in The Last Temptation of Christ. More importantly, Silence , just by virtue of its subject matter, has the markings of a small, boutique film. That's not the kind of film Scorsese, one of our greatest living directors, should making in his golden years. I want him doing David Lean-size big-picture stuff like The Wolf of Wall Street, and, I suspect, so do his handlers.
According to Deadline, Cecchi Gori Pictures claims in its lawsuit that it invested more than $750,000 to develop Silence into a feature film based on contracts and assurances that it would be Scorsese’s next project.
Scorsese initally agreed in 1990 to co-produce and direct Silence after he completed Kundun (1997). But the lawsuit alleges Scorsese and Sikelia arranged to postpone starting on Silence so the director could make The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010) and Hugo (2011).
When Cecchi Gori learned that Scorsese was going to shoot The Wolf of Wall Street instead of Silence, the company claimed breach of contract.
Scorsese's responded to the suit today with the following statement:
"It is shocking to us that the lawyers for Cecchi Gori Pictures would file a suit pursuing such absurd claims considering the amicable working relationship existing between Martin Scorsese and the principals of Cecchi Gori Pictures.The claims asserted are completely contradicted by, inconsistent with, and contrary to the express terms of an agreement entered into by the parties last year."
The statement added: "The lawsuit filing on the eve of Mr. Scorsese starting another picture has all the earmarks of a media stunt."
Given that the amount of Cecchi Gori's investment isn't even $1 million — a paltry sum in moviemaking terms — there should be a compromise here that enables Cecchi Gori's principals to walk away without feeling like they got burned and for Scorsese to make the movies he wants to make, when he wants to make them. I just hope that Silence isn't one of them.
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