Martin Scorsese Says His New ‘Film About Jesus’ Will Remove ‘Negative Onus’ From Organized Religion

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese claims that his new “film about Jesus” will radically alter public opinion on organized religion.

The movie, which is based on Japanese novelist Shūsaku Endō’s book “A Life of Jesus,” was announced last year and is scheduled to start filming later in 2024. The screenplay is reportedly finished, and the movie will have an estimated run time of 80 minutes.

Scorsese discussed his goals for the project during a Los Angeles Times profile published Monday. “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,” Scorsese said of the film.

“Right now, ‘religion,’ you say that word and everyone is up in arms because it’s failed in so many ways,” the 81-year-old filmmaker continued. “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.”

The outlet noted that Scorsese decided to make the movie after meeting with Pope Francis in May 2023. “I have 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,” he said at the time.

Many moviegoers will recall that the Hollywood director has made a movie about Jesus before. His film “The Last Temptation of Christ,” was extremely controversial when it premiered in 1988.

Eternal World Television Network founder Mother Angelica called the movie “sacrilegious” for its storyline, which depicted Jesus as a mortal sinner like all other people in existence. One of the most infamous scenes shows Jesus (Willem Dafoe) fantasizing about having a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene

The film includes a disclaimer saying it’s “not based on the Gospels, but upon the fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict,” but that didn’t stop Christians from boycotting the movie.

The book Scorsese is using as his inspiration also approaches the topic of Jesus in an unconventional way. Endo wrote the book for Japanese people who would be more open to the “motherly side of Jesus” because fathers in his culture are seen as stern and harsh.

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