Martin Scorsese for Silence took on the Italian Oscar-winning production designer Dante Ferretti, but for this movie, as for Kundun, Ferretti wore also the hat of costume designer. In Italy, it is a common practice for the production designer to be also the costume designer because, according to Ferretti, in this way it is possible to offer a more defined visual identity to any project. At the end of the day, it is much easier to incorporate costumes into the scenic design when the same person is in charge of both.
After having considered several possible locations all over the world the choice was made to shoot the film in Taiwan where Ferretti and his team built many of the Japanese locations in a studio, even if a lot of the film was shot on location. A portion of Nagasaki was reconstructed in the studio’s backlot and three seaside villages were completely built on location. Each detail concerning Nagasaki was created and portrayed with the greatest precision: the temple, fruit shops, porcelain, ceramics, clothes and everything else.
For the costumes, Ferretti had to study a way to standardize the priests’ ones to those that were used for the general population of 17th century Japan, because the three fathers could not risk being recognized as strangers or as Jesuits. In particular Ferretti is fond of one of the costumes designed for Father Rodrigues [Garfield] in the scenes where he pretends to be a Japanese married middle-class men, while during the entire movie he dressed as a poor inhabitant of a Japanese village. Ferretti designed also 80 Portuguese and Dutch merchants costumes. All of them were made in Italy and then brought to the set.
Ilona Catani Scarlett