Author Topic: Paul Verhoeven Finds Backing And A Writer For Controversial Jesus Christ Movie  (Read 4654 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD:

Paul Verhoeven Finds Backing And A Writer For Controversial Jesus Christ Movie

By MIKE FLEMING | Tuesday June 19, 2012 @ 8:24pm EDT


EXCLUSIVE: As Darren Aronofskyís Noah gets ready to set sail and iconic directors Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg forge ahead with epics about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, faithful Biblical epics are flourishing in Hollywood. It looks like there is even room for one that takes the most controversial look at the life of Jesus Christ since Martin Scorseseís The Last Temptation of Christ.

Iím told that Muse Productionsí Chris Hanley, whose credits include American Psycho, has stepped up to finance development of a film about Christ. It will be based on Jesus of Nazareth, a book that director Paul Verhoeven co-wrote after immersing himself in the history and researching the subject for nearly two decades. Verhoeven plans to direct the film, which will be written by Roger Avary. Avary shared the Academy Award for Best Original Script with Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction.

Verhoevenís take on the life of Jesus Christ discounts all of the miracles that inform the New Testament. That includes the immaculate conception, and the resurrection. Verhoeven doesnít believe any of them happened. I wrote about Verhoevenís ambitions in spring, 2011 as he and his reps at ICM first tried to find funding, no small feat given some of the theories he put forth in the book. The most controversial: that 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. That, and the discounting of the miracles that pepper the New Testament, has made this a daunting project to set up. But while Verhoevenís film credits include Showgirls (as well as hits like Robocop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct) he isnít trying to tantalize here. He is fixated on Christ not for the miracles depicted in the blockbuster film The Passion Of The Christ, but rather in the enduring power of the message Christ preached which have kept him first and foremost in the minds of Christians for 2000 years. Verhoeven feels too many take Jesusí sacrifice for our sins as a free pass to misbehave, because they think they donít have to take responsibility for their actions. He feels that the value of Christís journey is the opportunity to emulate his life and the values he held dear, like forgiveness.

ďIf you look at the man, itís clear you have a person who was completely innovative in the field of ethics,Ē Verhoeven told me last year. ďMy own passion for Jesus came when I started to realize that. Itís not about miracles, itís 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. Jesusí 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.Ē

Elsewhere on the movie Bible belt, Prometheus director Scott and his Scott Free have become attached to Exodus, a project that had already been set at Fox with Chernin Entertainment. Itís from a script by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, the Trump Heist scribes who reinvented themselves with this project and a version of Moby Dick that Timur Bekmambetov has been developing.

That puts Fox and Warner Bros in competition on Moses movies, as Steven Spielberg continues to circle Gods And Kings, the Stuart Hazeldine and Michael Green-scripted epic. Now, both directors have more films than they know what to do with, but Iím told this has become a real race. Scott is prepping his next film The Counselor, the Cormac McCarthy scripted drama with Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz for Fox, while Spielberg, who is in post production on Lincoln,  is readying Robopocalypse at DreamWorks as his next film. There seems a great opportunity to update The Ten Commandments, but I doubt there is room for more than one.

The other major ancient religious-themed project, the film about Judah Macabee that Mel Gibson set at Warner Bros with the intention of directing a Braveheart-style film about the events that are commemorated at Hanukkah, seems to have imploded because of discord between Gibson and the screenwriter he hired, Joe Eszterhas. They had a falling out, one Iíve heard stemmed from Eszterhas showing up without having put in the work to transfer Gibsonís ideas for the movie to the page. Eszterhas, in turn, taped Gibson getting angry and yelling at him, and the formerly highly paid scribe has turned the controversy into what seems like a plea for attention, even publishing an e-book about his experiences with Gibson. But if Gibson said even a portion of the things Eszterhas claims he said about Jews, Gibson should find another subject for his next directing assignment because he is missing a sensitivity chip, along with more than a few marbles.

Verhoeven doesnít have that kind of baggage coming into the Jesus Christ project, but he is treading on territory that Christians universally would label as blasphemous. The film seems to have landed in the appropriate place, as a gritty and controversial independent film. Both Verhoeven and Avary are repped by ICM Partners, which did not comment, nor did Hanley return my call.

Offline JLI Jesse

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I never thought I'd want to see a movie about Jesus, but based on the article I actually do want to see this.

Offline BlackRodimus

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Quote
Verhoeven feels too many take Jesusí sacrifice for our sins as a free pass to misbehave, because they think they donít have to take responsibility for their actions. He feels that the value of Christís journey is the opportunity to emulate his life and the values he held dear, like forgiveness.

First of all, I thought Paul Verhoeven was dead. Then I realized that's the director of RoboCop 2, not RoboCop 1.  :P

Second, he can't have it both ways, unless he's basically saying he himself is an atheist/agnostic trying to find value in the existence of Jesus Christ. Meaning, if Jesus wasn't the son of man, God in the flesh, but rather the product of a rape by a Roman soldier, then his sacrifice is invalid. That would make him no different than you or I or anyone else, and we ALL have sinned and come short and need to face punishment for that. One sinner cannot stand in for the punishment of another cause they're BOTH guilty. Only someone blameless can do that, ie the son of the Living God. You can't say he wasn't really the God in the flesh and didn't really perform miracles, but yet his sacrifice still stands as is.

I think its a bad idea, but it may appeal to the atheist/agnostic crowd.
"don't fight the power, be the power" - Reginald Hudlin

Offline JLI Jesse

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I think its a bad idea, but it may appeal to the atheist/agnostic crowd.

I think that's why I like the idea.  I was raised Jewish but don't believe in god/religious views/etc.  I can understand why this would offend people of faith, but I find the idea of Jesus as a radical religious prophet wrongly interpreted as divine, fascinating. 

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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I think its a bad idea, but it may appeal to the atheist/agnostic crowd.

I think that's why I like the idea.  I was raised Jewish but don't believe in god/religious views/etc.  I can understand why this would offend people of faith, but I find the idea of Jesus as a radical religious prophet wrongly interpreted as divine, fascinating. 
Me too.  I wold totally see this.  And it would be great if he was cast Sephardic.

Offline BlackRodimus

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I think its a bad idea, but it may appeal to the atheist/agnostic crowd.

I think that's why I like the idea.  I was raised Jewish but don't believe in god/religious views/etc.  I can understand why this would offend people of faith, but I find the idea of Jesus as a radical religious prophet wrongly interpreted as divine, fascinating. 

The bolded part is interesting, true, its just him saying the "sacrifice for our sins" part that I find seems kinda contradictory. If he leaves it just as you just described, "a radical religious prophet wrongly interpreted as divine", that would make more sense.
"don't fight the power, be the power" - Reginald Hudlin

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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I think its a bad idea, but it may appeal to the atheist/agnostic crowd.

I think that's why I like the idea.  I was raised Jewish but don't believe in god/religious views/etc.  I can understand why this would offend people of faith, but I find the idea of Jesus as a radical religious prophet wrongly interpreted as divine, fascinating. 
Me too.  I wold totally see this.  And it would be great if he was cast Sephardic.
Ditto. I'm in.
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
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Offline Redjack

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Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Francisco

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About time...
Don't get fooled by the bombs that I get I'm still I'm still Saddam from Iraq.

Offline JRCarter

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Offline Vic Vega

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A Jesus movie for secular agnostics.

I almost think Verhoven is trolling somebody but I can't figure out who.

A movie like this is as likely to rile up Atheists is it is religious folk.

Offline Francisco

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I will watch this. Finally a movie about the message and not just the magic tricks.
Verhoeven is on point. I'll watch it.
Don't get fooled by the bombs that I get I'm still I'm still Saddam from Iraq.

Offline JRCarter

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I will watch this. Finally a movie about the message and not just the magic tricks.
Verhoeven is on point. I'll watch it.

David Copperfield does magic tricks. Jesus performed miracles. Just clarifying.

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

Offline Francisco

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I will watch this. Finally a movie about the message and not just the magic tricks.
Verhoeven is on point. I'll watch it.

David Copperfield does magic tricks. Jesus performed miracles. Just clarifying.
So did Superman in the  last comic book I've read. It's the message not the PR stunts.
Don't get fooled by the bombs that I get I'm still I'm still Saddam from Iraq.