American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 40

◗

Worlds Apart

Right: Father
Cristóvão Ferreira
(Liam Neeson)
travels as a
missionary to Japan,
where the
government has
banned Christianity
and driven its
practitioners
underground.
Middle: Samurai
prepare to mete out
justice in a village.
Fog rolled in as the
filmmakers were
shooting the scene,
lending mystery to
the warriors' arrival.
Bottom: Prieto
measures the
ambient light.

the surface, Silence is a simpler visual
language than usual for him, but still
very eloquent - he never moves the
camera without an intrinsic reason,
something that emanates from the
character or the story. In this case, with
very few exceptions, the camera is either
with Rodrigues and Garrpe or seeing
what's happening from their perspective. If they're hiding behind rocks, the
camera is, too. That made the coverage
simple in a way, but it created its own set
of challenges. When we scouted, the
question was always, 'Where will the
priests be and how will they feel?' If they
had no place to hide, we'd look for
another location. The key was to keep it
subjective, and sometimes that did call
for some stylized choices.
In terms of specific visual references, I thought about the images that
might shape a priest's view of the world
at that time, and it would have been art,
mainly religious Baroque paintings. So,
for some of my lighting and compositions for the first two-thirds of the
movie, I drew inspiration from paintings
by José de Ribera, Diego Velázquez,
Georges de La Tour and Francisco de
Zurbarán. For the latter part, when
Japanese culture seeps into the priests'
consciousness, I used Japanese folding
40

January 2017

American Cinematographer



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2017 - 1
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