Martin Scorsese Confirms ‘A Life of Jesus’ Script Is Finished: 80-Minute Movie Will Not ‘Proselytize’

Martin Scorsese officially has two new films in the works.

Apple Original film “The Wager” was already announced, marking Scorsese’s second adaptation of a David Grann non-fiction book following “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and now the Oscar winner has also confirmed the script for “A Life of Jesus” has been completed.

Scorsese said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times that he co-wrote the adaptation of “Silence” author Shūsaku Endō’s “A Life of Jesus” with critic and filmmaker Kent Jones. According to the L.A. Times, Scorsese “plans to shoot it later this year” in 2024. Where exactly that leaves production on “The Wager” starring Leonardo DiCaprio remains to be seen. IndieWire has reached out to Scorsese’s representatives for comment.

“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.

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“A Life of Jesus” will be mostly set in the present day, with the L.A. Times noting that the expected 80-minute film will be “focusing on Jesus’ core teachings in a way that explores the principles but doesn’t proselytize.”

“Scorsese doesn’t want to be locked into a certain period,” the article reads, “because he wants the film to feel timeless.”

The “Raging Bull” director revealed he is “still scrapping or scraping or however you want to put it” when it comes to his film output, revealing that “‘Silence,’ ‘The Irishman,’ ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ … these were not movies studios were eager to make.”

Scorsese reflected on the common thread between his filmography, saying, “I tried finding with ‘Kundun’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’ even ‘Gangs of New York,’ to a certain extent, ways into redemption and the human condition and how we deal with the negative things inside us. Are we decent and then learn to become indecent? Can we change? Will others accept that change? And it really is, I think, a fear of a society and culture that’s corrupted because of its lack of grounding in morality and spirituality. Not religion. Spirituality. Denying that.”

Scorsese continued, “So for me, it’s finding my own way in a … if you want to say the term ‘religious’ sense, but I hate to use that language, because it’s misinterpreted often. But there’s basic fundamental beliefs that I have — or I’m trying to have — and I’m using these films to find it.”

Scorsese recently met with Pope Francis following the Global Aesthetics of the Catholic Imagination in May 2023. The meeting with the Pope led Scorsese to say at the time, “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,” leading to the writing of “A Life of Jesus.”

“Right now, ‘religion,’ you say that word and everyone is up in arms because it’s failed in so many ways,” Scorsese told the L.A. Times. “But that doesn’t mean necessarily that the initial impulse was wrong. Let’s get back. Let’s just think about it. 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. That’s all I’m talking about. And I’m saying that as a person who’s going to be 81 in a couple of days.”

Scorsese told IndieWire’s Anne Thompson that “The Wager” was on the backburner amid the “Killers of the Flower Moon” awards circuit. Scorsese revealed that he anticipated “The Wager” to be a “difficult” production, and that he may even step back and share directing credits with another filmmaker.

“First of all, the issue is now that the writer’s strike is over, and because so much is on me to go out there and spread the word about ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ let me take a break,” Scorsese said. “And we’ll get working with writers and see if we get it on the page. And maybe it’s something I could co-direct, so to speak. It’ll be difficult. But there are ways now, with certain technical things we could do, to make it bearable. Depending on how we get the script together.”

He added that executive producer DiCaprio, while announced to be starring in the film, was not tied to a specific role yet.

“I’m not sure. There’s a lot of good parts,” Scorsese said of whom DiCaprio would be playing.

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