Martin Scorsese Plans to Shoot ‘A Life of Jesus’ Later This Year

The film will be based on the book by “Silence” author Shūsaku Endō

Martin Scorsese at the "Killers of the Flower Moon" Los Angeles premiere.
Martin Scorsese at the "Killers of the Flower Moon" Los Angeles premiere. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Last summer, after attending a conference in Italy called Global Aesthetics of the Catholic Imagination (while his global press tour for “Killers of the Flower Moon” had only just begun), director Martin Scorsese said he met with Pope Francis and planned to make a movie about Jesus. That might have seemed like excitable hyperbole, but according to a new interview Scorsese did with the LA Times, that’s exactly what he’ll be doing later this year.

According to the report, the movie will be based on Shūsaku Endō’s book of the same name; Endō also wrote the book that “Silence” was based on. It was co-written by Kent Jones, a critic, filmmaker and former staple of the New York Film Festival, and will be set mostly in modern day (although don’t hold Scorsese to that). Scorsese expects the film to run 80 minutes and, according to the report, will mostly be “focusing on Jesus’ core teachings in a way that explores the principles but doesn’t proselytize.” It will shoot later this year.

“I’m trying to find a new way to make it more accessible and take away the negative onus of what has been associated with organized religion,” Scorsese told the LA Times.

Scorsese continued: “Right now, ‘religion,’ you say that word and everyone is up in arms because it’s failed in so many ways. But that doesn’t mean necessarily that the initial impulse was wrong. Let’s get back. Let’s just think about it. You may reject it. But it might make a difference in how you live your life — even in rejecting it. Don’t dismiss it offhand. That’s all I’m talking about. And I’m saying that as a person who’s going to be 81 in a couple of days. You know what I’m saying?”

Scorsese, of course, has a complicated relationship with religion and Jesus Christ himself. Most of his movies reflect his staunch Catholic upbringing and are suffused with Catholic guilt and imagery closely connected to the religion. But in 1988 he courted controversy when he made “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which focused on a variety of temptations that Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe) was teased with, including sexuality. (A disclaimer made it very clear it was not based on the gospels, but rather a historical novel. The original novel was written by Nikos Kazantzakis and adapted by impish Scorsese collaborator Paul Schrader.) It seems as though this new adaptation will be more straightforward.

Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” is now available digitally or on Apple TV+.

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