Jump to content

Paul Verhoeven's Untitled Jesus Flick


Recommended Posts

From the man that brought you Starship Troopers and Showgirls...

Essentially it is about Jesus the human being. That's a big step isn

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm I suspect this thread might take a very long time to come to fruition.

As I mentioned in my recent blog post on this story I first heard about it in the first edition of W. Barnes Tatums' "Jesus at the Movies" which was published almost ten years ago in 1997.

There's an article on it here as well that goes back to 1998.

It's a shame cos I'd certainly be interested to see it, and perhaps the fact that he is mentioning it in interviews means he has got some enthusiasm back for it again.

Matt

Link to post
Share on other sites

I blogged this last Thursday, and I also mentioned it last August, come to that, in a post on directors who have wanted to make Jesus films but never did (other examples include Chaplin, Dreyer and Pontecorvo). I also posted excerpts from a few books about Paul Verhoeven and his Jesus-movie ambitions to the OnFilm Yahoo! group back in January 2000, and I prefaced the excerpts by saying:

Verhoeven's been working on this for years. When I interviewed Marcus Borg, a member of the Jesus Seminar, five years ago, he told me that Verhoeven was thinking of casting Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. Borg also told me then that W. Barnes Tatum, another Jesus Seminar member (so is Verhoeven, BTW), was working on a book about Jesus movies; that book is now out, and it has this to say about Verhoeven's efforts . . .

So whenever I hear that Verhoeven has made another film -- Starship Troopers (1997), Hollow Man (2000), Black Book (2006) -- I have thought to myself, "Ah, I guess we have at least a few more years to go until he makes his Jesus film."

FWIW, I remember Verhoeven bringing this up in a February 1998 Entertainment Weekly article on the effect that Titanic would have on the film industry:

"A psychological line has been crossed," notes director Paul Verhoeven, who barely managed to sink a layup with last year's $100 million
Starship Troopers
(it has grossed $75 million in box office worldwide to date). "It opens up the $100 million line. It'll be easier to get those sorts of movies made."

Director Paul Schrader -- whose latest film, an upcoming Nick Nolte drama called
Affliction
, could have been made 15 times on
Titanic
's budget -- reaches the same conclusion. "The word last summer was, '[
Titanic
] will be the lesson we've been waiting to learn. We've finally gone too far, spent too much money, a correction is in order.' But the opposite lesson is now being promoted," he says, "which is that to get $8.75 out of people's pockets, you really have to show them something big."

That's bad news for filmmakers -- and audiences -- who prefer something little. As even the indies begin to splurge on their own Events (like Miramax's plans for a $70 million
Rambo
sequel -- no joke), it'll get tougher and tougher to find a home for the humble $35 million film. Of course, not everyone is lamenting the trend; the bigger budgets also mean some directors may finally get to realize their once too-expensive dream projects. "I've been thinking about doing the life of Jesus," confesses Verhoeven. "Reconstruct Jerusalem in the first century. It shouldn't cost more than $100 million."

Also, FWIW, click here for my summary of Verhoeven's thoughts on the Christ imagery in Robocop (1987).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter, I'm trying to remember where I read something about Verhoeven presenting a draft script to the Jesus Seminar., and they were fairly shockd to find that he had decided to include all the apocalyptic stuff which most of theor members consider nto to be derived from Jesus. Does it ring any bells (it was probably you who told me!)

Matt

Link to post
Share on other sites

MattPage wrote:

: Peter, I'm trying to remember where I read something about Verhoeven presenting a draft script

: to the Jesus Seminar., and they were fairly shockd to find that he had decided to include all the

: apocalyptic stuff which most of theor members consider nto to be derived from Jesus. Does it

: ring any bells (it was probably you who told me!)

Sounds like one of the excerpts I posted at the link above, from pages 15-16 of Luke Timothy Johnson's The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996):

The media-circus dimension of the Jesus Seminar is nowhere shown more clearly than in the participation of Paul Verhoeven, whose Ph.D. is from the University of Leiden but whose professional affiliation is with Brooksfilms as a movie director, and whose credits include
Robocop
,
Basic Instinct
, and
Showgirls
. Verhoeven, according to the
Washington Post
(12 Nov. 1988), plans to produce a movie about Jesus based on the findings of the Jesus Seminar, whose members would thereby become "consultants." The presence of Hollywood has had its usual effect, described in delicious detail by Russell Shorto in a profile called "Cross Fire" that appeared in
GQ
(June 1994). Shorto depicts the scholars pitching various cinematic possibilities to an "impassive" Verhoeven, who listens to one after another before breaking "into a little smile. 'Yeah,' he says, 'I'll do it that way, probably.'" The circle has turned full. The Seminar that courted the attention of the media has succeeded beyond its dreams. The talk now is not of Matthew and Mark, but of
The Last Temptation of Christ
, and of Scorsese and Zeffirelli. This is real importance and power. Forget shaping scholarship. Forget renewing the church. We're gonna make a movie! The further development of Verhoeven's plans, which turned out to envisage a very eschatological Jesus, drawn in large measure from the Gospel of John, as well as the dismay these aroused in some Seminar participants, is detailed in an article by Charlotte Allen, "Away with the Manger" (
Lingua Franca: The Review of Academic Life
, Feb. 1995, pp. 22-30). As Allen sardonically remarks, "despite eight years of faithful attendance at the Jesus Seminar, he hadn't been paying much attention" (p. 27).

FWIW, I would not be as quick as Johnson to disparage movie-making as a way of "renewing the church", though I grant that the power of film to "shape scholarship" is, um, limited.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep forgetting that Verhoeven is a member of the Jesus Seminar. What's his PhD in?

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

Link to post
Share on other sites

Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

: I keep forgetting that Verhoeven is a member of the Jesus Seminar. What's his PhD in?

Physics and mathematics, according to one of the books linked above ("While obtaining a Ph.D. in physics and mathematics, Verhoeven learned that 'nothing is clean, nothing is provable.'").

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter, I'm trying to remember where I read something about Verhoeven presenting a draft script to the Jesus Seminar., and they were fairly shockd to find that he had decided to include all the apocalyptic stuff which most of theor members consider nto to be derived from Jesus. Does it ring any bells (it was probably you who told me!)

Matt

I also came across that somewhere other than Johnson's book...I'll keep an eye out.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually I think that might be it. YOu must have quoted it on the Novogate boards Peter.

Mike, I'd be interested to know if it's anywhere else as well.

FWIW I'd be very interested to see this film, even if I did disagree with a lot of it.

Matt

Link to post
Share on other sites

Over at the Soul Food Movies blog I've posted Verhoeven's notes on his script ideas, which I believe were distributed at the Spring '94 Jesus Seminar.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting that, Ron. It is an excellent summary of how the Jesus Seminar would re-write the Gospels if they had the chance (except for some of the details on Lazarus). This is quite an ending: "Within the next 12 hours all were crucified."

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting that, Ron. It is an excellent summary of how the Jesus Seminar would re-write the Gospels if they had the chance (except for some of the details on Lazarus).

Well, if Paul (not the saint) ever gets round to making his movie, I guess they'll have the chance!

This is quite an ending: "Within the next 12 hours all were crucified."

It is. I wonder who's included in that "all"? And whether, in the last moments of the film leading up to the dozen or so crucifixions (or should that be crucifictions?), there'll be a montage actually show Matthew, Mark and John busily scribbling away, hurriedly jotting down their gospels before marching off to their deaths? Matthew keeps looking over Mark's shoulder, getting the order right. Or maybe Peter is there dictating. Through tears, of course, having just denied Jesus. Finally John stalks away to another room, muttering something about "those guys can't get anything right." Could be a bit anti-climactic, but I'd pay to see it.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Paul Verhoeven takes on Jesus

Dutch director Paul Verhoeven will publish his long-awaited biography of Jesus of Nazareth in September.

Published by Amsterdam-based Meulenhoff, the book is the result of more than 20 years of research. Over the years, Verhoeven was a regular attendee of U.S. scholar Robert W. Funk's Jesus seminars, which call into question miracles and statements attributed to Jesus. . . .

Verhoeven, who turns 70 in July, has had a lifelong ambition to make a film about Jesus, based on scientific research. Verhoeven decided to write the book to raise interest in the project. His publisher is in negotiations for an English-language translation.

Hollywood Reporter, April 22

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding the title of this thread, isn't the title of the film meant to be Christ the Man?

My blog piece on the above story including a front cover and a link to a Fox News article where Bill Donahue seems to encourage Verhoeven to "go back to Sharon Stone's legs." Is he actually suggesting Verhoeven should make more erotic thrillers?

Matt

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...

Paul Verhoeven's 'Jesus' flies off shelves

Dutch director Paul Verhoeven has scored a new hit in the Netherlands, but this time not on film.

Within a few weeks of publication, his book on the life of Jesus Christ has sold out three times. A fourth edition of the book is being printed by his Amsterdam-based publisher, Meulenhoff. . . .

Meanwhile, Verhoeven is still working on several film projects, including a biopic of Joan of Arc.

Hollywood Reporter, September 29

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

So... what was the very last reading event at the famous Elliott Bay Book Company in downtown Seattle on the night before the store closed its doors?

Hard to believe.

(I know the fellow who hosted it, and met with him to brainstorm questions for the event.)

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

So... what was the very last reading event at the famous Elliott Bay Book Company in downtown Seattle on the night before the store closed its doors?

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My very favorite place in Seattle! I actually spent more time there than at Scarecrow Video, and that is saying a lot! And that was while I worked for Barnes and Noble in Bellevue. Please don't tell me a downtown B&N was responsible for this.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The place just couldn't survive. They did their best. But they're moving, not dying. They're opening a shop on Capitol Hill. It'll be different, but at least it won't be dead.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Hollywood & Religion: More Controversy To Come If New Films Anger The Faithful

-- Director Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers) and his ICM reps have spent the last half year unsuccessfully trying to raise financing for a movie version of Jesus of Nazareth, a book Verhoeven co-wrote and researched for nearly two decades. In his revisionist vision of Christ, Verhoeven rejects the miracles, the immaculate conception, and the resurrection that Catholics all over the world will celebrate tomorrow. Verhoeven feels they undermine the core teachings that have kept Christ relevant for more than 2,000 years. Verhoeven had developed a Jesus Christ film idea with comedian Mel Brooks years ago and became consumed. "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." The difficulty in securing film financing for his book is that Verhoeven supposes that Christ was likely the result of his mother being raped by a Roman soldier, which Verhoeven claims was commonplace. Jesus himself is depicted as a radical prophet who performs exorcisms. And so on, all running counter to the New Testament. . . .

Mike Fleming, Deadline.com, April 24

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't get it. So he's replacing the "mystical" Jesus who did miracles and rose on Easter with a completely fictionalized Jesus that he's apparently constructed from the remains of latent acid trips and the Jesus Seminar's crank file? At least some people who were around at the time claimed that the former Jesus actually existed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The proposed portrayal of the conception aside, I shouldn't see that what is described would necessarily create a problem for Christians. I can certainly see how it might, but it doesn't have to. A Jesus film solely focussed on "a person who was completely innovative in the field of ethics... a new set of ethics, an openness towards the world, which was anathema in a Roman-dominated world" might be an interesting exploration of one aspect of Jesus' life. Even if Verhoeven excludes other elements (such as the miracles) because he thinks they don't matter, it doesn't mean that the film has to focus in on debunking that to explore the ethical angle.

What is interesting is the final line about the exorcisms. That certainly doesn't run counter to the New Testament, but I'd have thought that Verhoeven would classify that in with miracles.

Matt

Link to post
Share on other sites
The proposed portrayal of the conception aside, I shouldn't see that what is described would necessarily create a problem for Christians.

A film that purports to be a more historical approach to the Jesus narrative while robbing it of the theological undertones that give it weight? That will surely create a major problem for Christians. Doesn't mean they have to get into a big, public hissy-fit over it, but yeah, it's definitely going to rub people the wrong way. I mean, if this film resembles those Jesus seminar notes at all, this film is going to make LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST look downright traditional.

A Jesus film solely focussed on "a person who was completely innovative in the field of ethics... a new set of ethics, an openness towards the world, which was anathema in a Roman-dominated world" might be an interesting exploration of one aspect of Jesus' life.

Assuming that the ethics Verhoeven believes Jesus taught actually resemble the ethics the apostolic witness suggests he taught, which isn't necessarily going to be the case.

Edited by Ryan H.
Link to post
Share on other sites

well it depends if it actually does "robbing" or whether it simply focuses on the ethics. And the purporting would probably only count if it was part of the actual film not just part of the publicity.

: Assuming that the ethics Verhoeven believes Jesus taught actually resemble the ethics the

: apostolic witness suggests he taught, which isn't necessarily going to be the case.

this is why I said "might".

Matt

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ryan H. wrote:

: I mean, if this film resembles those Jesus seminar notes at all . . .

Just wondering, which "notes" do you mean? If memory serves, Verhoeven's reconstruction of Jesus was very, very different from the consensus arrived at by most of the rest of the Seminar.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...