Silence was Martin Scorsese‘s passion project, in development since the early 90s and in his head since the 70s, so it’s no surprise to hear that the original cut he turned in when the film was complete was pretty long.
Back in 2016, the film was initially reported to be 195 minutes. It seems like even the great Scorsese was asked to trim it down to a slightly more palatable 161 minutes. Star Andrew Garfield has seen both versions and Collider spoke to him, wondering whether there was a huge difference between the two:
“I would’ve loved the longer cut just because I love the film so much and I wanted everything that he shot to be on screen. I feel the film is timeless in terms of its narrative, there’s something very mysterious about it.
So yeah, the final cut is just a tighter version of the first one I saw, with a lot of fat trimmed out. But fat that was hard to take away because it’s such a rich story and how do you get it down to even two and a half hours. You’re dealing with big questions, you’re dealing with the meaning of life really, the meaning of why we’re all here”.
Scorsese is not known for releasing ‘directors cuts’ of his films, but is it possible a film as personal as this might be the exception? Garfield was asked whether there was a chance the director would release the longer version once the film hits Blu-Ray and DVD:
“I don’t know if it would take much convincing, I think that would be pretty amazing. I wonder whether he has an assembly of his original cut. I’m sure he would need to polish it, so maybe that’s just a bit more work than he’s able to do right now. But wouldn’t that be amazing. What do you have to do? I don’t know, maybe get a petition started, or maybe we could make a viral video for him. I don’t know. That would be amazing though, I’d love that too”.
Silence has been a critical success, would a perfectionist like Scorsese be happy having two versions of his film floating around if he released the longer cut? Or is he content with the version in cinemas?
The film feels like it has the perfect balance of thematic weight vs not being too long that you forget you have a life outside of this darkened cinema, so perhaps it’s best to leave it. On the other hand, who knows what great footage was left on the cutting room floor?