Scorsese warns against 'tossing away' spirituality


Paris (AFP) - Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese said that despite “horrific” conflicts around the world involving religion “we shouldn’t toss away spirituality”.

The Oscar-winning maker of “Taxi Driver” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” told reporters on Thursday that he had to overcome “monumental legal and financial problems” to make his latest film “Silence” about the martyrdom of hidden Catholics and Jesuit missionaries in Japan in the 17th century.

“I was constantly discouraged from making it by Hollywood,” said the 74-year-old director, who insisted that the human need for spirituality cannot be ignored.

He said his film, which he had been trying to make for two decades, was a meditation on the spiritual reflex. “It does exist. So how do we nurture it? Not necessarily through religion but in the spiritual meaning of being a human being.”

Scorsese said that while “there are horrific events going on in the world” tied to religion “we shouldn’t toss away spirituality”.

Scorsese met Pope Francis – who is himself a Jesuit – before screening the film at the Vatican last month. The epic has divided critics with many classing it among his best movies, while others were less moved.

The director, who has described himself as a “lapsed Catholic, but I am Catholic – there’s no way out of it”, said “three or four great actors” had turned down parts in the film because they “couldn’t take” its religious subject matter or “put themselves in that position” before Adam Driver and Liam Neeson signed up for the project.

But Scorsese, who talked to reporters in Paris as the film opened across Europe, was unapologetic about the film addressing the big eternal questions.

  • ‘This is who I am’ -

“There is nothing really to hide. That is who I am. I can’t be what’s fashionable. I’m 74, this is it, and it has value. Somehow the film was interwoven with my personal life like no other picture,” he added.

Even the gruelling shooting of the film in isolated mountain and coastal locations in Taiwan turned out to be a “mystical experience. It was an ordeal,” Scorsese admitted.

“I am a New Yorker, allergic to everything, who grew up in tenement corridors and I found myself on a mountain top.”

He said he chose to stick with the title of Shusaku Endo’s historical novel, “Silence”, on which the film is based, because “if we come from silence and that is what we are going to, we should become comfortable with it”.

“The film demands of the audience a certain concentration,” he said.

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He still identifies as Catholic, so that’s good


I’m interested in seeing the movie, but that’s another discussion. I don’t understand why people think religion and authentic spirituality are mutually exclusive. If one doesn’t believe in religion, but does believe in spirituality, the inevitable outcome is making up one’s own religion. We aren’t just spiritual, but physical. The allergy to “religion” sometimes comes across as a reaction against physicality. Maybe I have a different understanding of religion, and understand it as the physical extension of belief.


I agree with you. You put it very well.

Don’t know who said it but: A person who is spiritual but not religious is a member of a religion with one member.

I tend to see religion as the human response to the divine. It only makes sense that we use material things to approach God (how else can we possibly do it?). This is where the Sacraments make a lot of sense to me because God will use physical things to help us (what else could He possible use?). I personally think Catholicism understands this better than others.


[quote=]…despite “horrific” conflicts around the world involving religion “we shouldn’t toss away spirituality”…

I think he is trying to identify what most people dislike about ‘religions’. I have met many religious persons who outwardly jump through all the hoops put before them in their particular branch of religion but lack a true spiritual connection to God. So you can be religious yet not spiritual. It’s why many who have shrugged away from religion can be very spiritual people.

If everyone were spiritual we wouldn’t see these horrific conflicts Scorsese mentions.


I saw the movie today. It was very good. Very well made, but I am sure Hollywood will probably ignore it.


And yet, some accuse Mother Teresa of not being a true believer because of her dark night of the soul and intense feelings of God’s absence. They’ll claim she put on a good show. Many holy people may indeed feel like they are going through motions. Dryness is something almost every spirituality mature person will encounter.

If people shrug away from religion because of bad things that have occurred, then why not apply that consistently? Many spiritual but not religious people have done bad things, if one is honest about human nature. Just because one may be perceived as institutional doesn’t change that it occurs “un-institutionally” either.

I think there’s more going on. Spirituality isn’t a safeguard against horrific acts. Even the devils believe.


I don’t think I’ll see it coz of the violence. My husband wants to see it. Do you really think Hollywood will ignore it? Hollywood typically likes Scorsese’s work.


That goes without saying.


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