When you make a movie set in Japan, it’s a good idea to know what Japan looks like. And how better to do that, than to watch as much Japanese cinema as you can consume? It gets tricky when you’re making a movie set in an era that’s not the present — say, the 17th century — and you can’t just set up a crew in the streets of modern Tokyo. Martin Scorsese said that in order to get the look of his new film Silence, he had to go back in time to the classic Japanese cinema he grew up with.

In an interview with IMDB, Scorsese talks about how the Japanese films he saw when he was younger played into making his version of Japan in the era of Silence.

There’s no doubt that I’m fairly well-versed in Japanese cinema, there’s no doubt. And going back to the first Japanese film I saw, it was 1954 or ’55, it was on television, and it was called Ugetsu, which is Mizoguchi’s film. And the Mizoguchi films introduced me to Kurosawa and everyone else and I became obsessed really with Japanese film. I mean, there’s a sense of Japanese films — this was a long process as to how to approach the picture visually: what is in my mind? Are they Japanese films in my mind? If that’s the case, it’s not authentic. It has to be how I see it, not how I think Japanese cinema would look or a film shot about Japanese films in the 17th century would look.

He clearly has a sense of the difference between making a movie that looks like other movies set in the same place in the same era, and making his own version of what he and his production designers believe it looks like. We already know that he and his crew did as much research as they could into how Japan in this era would look and what their characters should wear. Our Editor-in-Chief Matt Singer says in his review that Silence “encapsulates many of Scorsese’s most deeply felt themes: ideas about faith, sin, and guilt he’s considered in film after film for decades. But it does so in a package that is slow, dry, and a little monotonous.” However you feel about the film itself, you can’t deny that it’s look is nothing short of stunning.

Silence is now in theaters.

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