Martin Scorsese will return to the cinema from his interests in religion with a new project focused on the figure of Jesus. After his film ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, released in 1988, and ‘Silence’, from 2016, the acclaimed director will turn to a new production with a theme linked to Catholicism.
After passing through the Cannes Film Festival, the American filmmaker, with more than half a century of experience, went to Italy to attend a series of religious and film events. A special meeting with Pope Francis played a leading role in his agendawhich would have motivated his decision to embark on the new film.
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In a press conference held in the Vatican on May 27, Scorsese announced: “I have responded to the Pope’s call to artists in the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a script for a film about Jesus” adding: “I’m about to start doing it.”
Scorsese and his wife, Helen Morris, were in Rome attending a conference titled ‘The Global Aesthetics of the Catholic Imagination’ and met briefly with the pontiff, shaking hands and congratulating him on his work.
Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit publication ‘La Civiltà Cattolica’, which organized the conference, reported on his social networks that Scorsese shared references to his films with personal anecdotes, in addition to explaining “how the call of the Holy Father ‘for us to see Jesus’ moved him”.
“Thanks to Martin Scorsese for accepting the invitation to join La Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University, together with his wife Helen Morris and their daughter Francesca, in the meeting of 40 poets and writers from different countries with Pope Francis”, he mentioned in his Instagram profile the priest, journalist and writer.
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Spadaro also replied to the message that the pontiff conveyed to those present: “Among other things, Francis said: ‘In your work as poets, storytellers, filmmakers, artists: give life, give body, give word to everything that human beings experience , feel, dream, suffer, create harmony and beauty. Are they going to criticize you? Very good, carry the burden of criticism, also trying to learn from it, but, even so, do not stop being original, creative. Don’t lose the wonderful thing about being alive”
Also that same Saturday, before attending the conference, Scorsese and his wife met Pope Francis during a brief private audience at the Vatican.
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According to different media, during the conversation about cinematographic references, Scorsese mentioned his admiration for The Gospel according to ‘Saint Matthew’by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The director also spoke about the meaning of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ and his investigation of the figure of Jesus, represented by his 2016 drama ‘Silence’, as well as talking about the persecution of Christian Jesuits in Japan in the XVII century.
‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ starring Willem Dafoe, playing Jesus; Barbara Hershey (Mary Magdalene) and Harvey Keitel (Judas) was considered, at the time, as “blasphemous” and “offensive” by some religious sectors. What many religious leaders questioned were the dream passages in which Jesus, shortly before being crucified, dreams of an earthly life and imagines a sexual encounter with Mary Magdalene.
The film, which had serious screening problems in several countries, also aroused resistance because it shows the protagonist constantly doubting his ability to transmit the word of God to the people.
Scorsese came out to publicly defend his work on multiple occasions: ”There were a lot of misunderstandings because people only think about one thing: sex. They don’t want to realize that the movie is not an exact version of the gospels, but an adaptation of a novel and my vision of Jesus Christ. It is only what Jesus could have done, if he had renounced the cross, his divine destiny: to marry; make love to his wife, in order to have children to raise, live like a normal man and die in peace. Can anyone imagine a more Christian and Catholic idea than that?
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*With information from La Nación
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