Orders from the Pope make a Catholic work quick: right after Killers of the Flower Moon‘s Cannes premiere Martin Scorsese visited Pope Francis and, in his own words, “responded to the Pope’s appeal to artists in the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a screenplay for a film about Jesus.” In just eight months’ time it’s come to light, via an LA Times profile, that Scorsese penned a script with frequent collaborator Kent Jones, of many documentaries and forthcoming Marilynne Robinson adaptations, taking as source Shūsaku Endō’s A Life of Jesus, wherein the Silence author’s stated intent was “to make Jesus understandable in terms of the religious psychology of my non-Christian countrymen and thus to demonstrate that Jesus is not alien to their religious sensibilities.” Shooting is expected to commence this year.

If that sounds rather first-person, Scorsese and Jones haven’t adapted it in straight-ahead manner: the LA Times claims this duo are “still figuring it out,” and while working with Endō’s 1973 text decided it’ll be set in the present day––mostly. There’s desire to make the film “feel timeless” across a slim 80 minutes that explore “Jesus’ core teachings in a way that explores the principles but doesn’t proselytize.” Par for the course of Scorsese saying that his film “wouldn’t be a straight narrative. But there would be staged scenes. And I would be in it.”

So it might be first-person––just, of course, through a different author. And not a screed, surely. As he elaborated:

“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. […] 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?”

I know we just published our most-anticipated-of-2024 list but I’m already wishing I could leapfrog into next year.

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