Some Christians recoil at the name “Martin Scorsese” just the way that the two priests in his new movie Silence are repulsed by their untrustworthy guide Kichijiro. (I know this first hand, I get angry mail from evangelicals whenever I review Scorsese’s work.)

In many Christian minds, this former Jesuit seminarian is an infidel, a heathen, both dangerous and misguided. Didn’t he make The Last Temptation of Christ, that controversial, “blasphemous” film about a disoriented Jesus and a sympathetic Judas? Didn’t he stage a pageant of debauchery when he made The Wolf of Wall Street? Aren’t his gangster movies filled with sex, drugs, and violence?

I see it differently. Scorsese has always been drawn to stories about villains, moral failures, characters who crave worldly power and influence. But he isn’t driven by a desire to glorify their sins. Rather, he seeks to represent characters he remembers from childhood: alcoholics, gangsters, hucksters, failures. He knew them. They disturbed him, but he loved them anyway. And his art is an expression of sympathy for, empathy for, and even identification with these “failures.”

Last weekend, I had chance to interview Martin Scorsese about his new film adaptation of Shūsaku Endo’s novel. As we talked, I found that Scorsese, too, is drawn to characters who might be called “wretches.”

Read all about it in Christianity Today. And stay tuned — I will write more about my conversation with Scorsese this weekend.

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