Pope Francis and filmmaker Martin Scorsese held a private meeting at the Vatican in late January. Scorsese’s most recent film, Killers of the Flower Moon, received 10 Oscar nominations, and he is now making a film about the life of Jesus.
Scorsese told the Los Angeles Times: “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.”
The film is planned to only be 80 minutes long, a significantly shorter movie than most feature films. Scorsese has directed or produced other religious films. He directed Silence, the film adaption of the novel written by Japanese-Catholic writer Shūsaku Endō, about two 17th-century missionaries; and The Last Temptation of Christ. He also served as executive producer for Building a Bridge, a documentary about Fr. James Martin’s LGBTQ+ advocacy.
In other Scorsese films, spiritual themes are ever-present, with characters in Mean Streets wondering about hell while sitting in a church. Bringing Out the Dead, writes reviewer Judy Coode, asks “Why does someone who has saved lives, who’s felt that God-power surge through him, lose that power?”
Scorsese reportedly met Francis previously, an inspiration toward his new film, which is an adaption of another Endō book, A Life of Jesus.
“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 society and culture that’s corrupted because of its lack of grounding in morality and spirituality. Not religion. Spirituality. Denying that,” Scorsese told the Los Angeles Times. “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 a basic fundamental belief that I have – or I’m trying to have – and I’m using these films to find it.”
Reuters reporting contributed to this article.