With Darren Aronofsky’s Noah moving forward and directors Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott progressing on their Gods and Kings and Moses epics respectively, Paul Verhoeven has decided to go for the literal king of Biblical personas. Verhoeven has landed financial backing and a writer for his controversial picture centering on Jesus Christ. In his writing corner will be Roger Avary, an Oscar winner who shared writing credits on Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino. Providing the greenbacks will Chris Hanley of Muse Productions, whose credits include American Psycho. Hit the jump for more on Jesus of Nazareth.
Some of Verhoeven’s opinions on the life of Jesus Christ may not rile up all that much controversy, depending on an individual’s level of religious conservatism. Verhoeven appears to take a grounded look at Christ’s life as a man, a politician and a revolutionary thinker, and less a man of miracles. There are, however, points that will be sure to angry up the blood, as Deadline reports:
“Jesus might have been the product of his mother being raped by a Roman soldier, which Verhoeven said was commonplace at the time, and that Jesus was a radical prophet who performed exorcisms and was convinced he would find the kingdom of Heaven on earth, and did not know he would be sentenced to die on the cross by Pontius Pilate.”
Also from Deadline comes a quote from Verhoeven himself:
“If you look at the man, it’s clear you have a person who was completely innovative in the field of ethics. My own passion for Jesus came when I started to realize that. It’s not about miracles, it’s about a new set of ethics, an openness towards the world, which was anathema in a Roman-dominated world. I believe he was crucified because they felt that politically, he was a dangerous person whose following was getting bigger and bigger. Jesus’ ideals are about the utopia of human behavior, about how we should treat each other, how we should step into the shoes of our enemy.”
Here’s a look at the book description from Verhoeven’s Jesus of Nazareth (via Amazon):
Building on the work of biblical scholars—Rudolph Bultmann, Raymond Brown, Jane Schaberg, and Robert Funk, among others—filmmaker Paul Verhoeven disrobes the mythical Jesus to reveal a man who has much in common with other great political leaders throughout history—human beings who believed that change was coming in their lifetimes. Gone is the Jesus of the miracles, gone the son of God, gone the weaver of arcane parables whose meanings are obscure. In their place Verhoeven gives us his vision of Jesus as a complete man, someone who was changed by events, the leader of a political movement, and, perhaps most importantly, someone who, in his speeches and sayings, introduced a new ethic in which the embrace of human contradictions transcends the mechanics of value and worth that had defined the material world before Jesus. “The Romans saw [Jesus] as an insurrectionist, what today is often called a terrorist. It is very likely there were ‘wanted’ posters of him on the gates of Jerusalem. He was dangerous because he was proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, but this wasn’t the Kingdom of Heaven as we think of it now, some spectral thing in the future, up in the sky. For Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven was a very tangible thing. Something that was already present on Earth, in the same way that Che Guevara proclaimed Marxism as the advent of world change. If you were totalitarian rulers, running an occupation like the Romans, this was troubling talk, and that was why Jesus was killed.”