What if Joshua bar Joseph (you know, Jesus) was just a man spreading ideas about loving your neighbor and your enemy alike? What if the claims of transcendence only mask a truth about a young child born from a raped mother who grew up to do radical exorcisms and challenge the political structure?
Somewhere along the way, director Paul Verhoeven became fascinated with Christ as an historical figure, and he wrote a book about it called “Jesus of Nazareth” that was published last year.
Now, according to Deadline Judea, he’s been trying to find financing for a film version. Regarding the project, Verhoeven has said, “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.”
It would be foolish to even count the films that focus on Jesus – some safely tucked away in the religiously faithful imagery, some iconoclastic. This project would undoubtedly fall into the latter category, but the angle Verhoeven seems to be coming from is one that seeks to preserve the teachings of the man by destroying the God.
Oddly enough, if Verhoeven gets to make the film, he’ll have a chance not only to change the image of Jesus Christ, but also his own image as the director of Robocop and Showgirls. This would be a stark departure from the work he made his mark with. He started that reinvention with 2006’s WWII-set Black Book, but Jesus of Nazareth would swing the pendulum as far away from his earlier work as possible.
What do you think?