In a story published by the Los Angeles Times, Martin Scorsese disclosed that the screenplay for his film about Jesus has been completed and the project will be filmed later this year with an expected runtime of 80 minutes, potentially making it Scorsese’s shortest work. The project was co-written with filmmaker and critic Kent Jones and is based on A Life of Jesus by Shūsaku Endō, who also wrote Silence, another work Scorcese adapted into film back in 2016.
Last May, Scorsese spoke to the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica (The Catholic Civilization), stating, “I responded to the Pope’s appeal to artists the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a screenplay for a film about Jesus.”
The film will take place in the present, focusing on the teachings of Jesus rather than on a specific religion. On this note, Scorsese explained, “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.”
This next film will be a cumulative representation of what many of Scorsese’s films pursue: “I tried finding it with Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ, even Gangs of New York, to a certain extent, ways into redemption and the human condition and how we deal with the negative things inside us…Are we decent and then learn to become indecent? Can we change? Will others accept that change? And it really is, I think, a fear of society and culture that’s corrupted because of its lack of grounding in morality and spirituality. Not religion. Spirituality. Denying that.”
Continuing on his feelings towards film and religion, Scorsese states, “It’s finding my own way in a…if you want to say the term ‘religious’ sense, but I hate to use that language, because it’s misinterpreted often. But there’s a basic fundamental beliefs that I have — or I’m trying to have — and I’m using these films to find it.”