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Martin Scorsese: New Movie to Make Jesus ‘More Accessible,’ ‘Take Away the Negative Onus of Organized Religion’

Veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese said this week he has finished the screenplay for a new movie that will make Jesus’ teachings “more accessible.”

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Scorsese said he wants to strip religion of its negative accretions and go back to the “original impulse” that makes spirituality attractive.

The film, set to run for some 80 minutes, will explore Jesus’ core teachings in a fresh way that allows people to see them in a new light.

“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 told L.A. Times columnist Glenn Whipp.

In his interview, Scorsese said that several of his past films, including Kundun, The Last Temptation of Christ, and even Gangs of New York, sought to find ways into “redemption and the human condition and how we deal with the negative things inside us.”

He went on to say that it is “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.”

“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,” he said. “But there’s basic fundamental beliefs that I have — or I’m trying to have — and I’m using these films to find it.”

“Right now, ‘religion,’ you say that word and everyone is up in arms because it’s failed in so many ways,” Scorsese said. “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,” he added.

Scorsese also asserted his firm belief in the power of forgiveness to change the world.

Forgiveness is an almost impossible goal for human beings, he said, “but I really believe in it.”

“If we nurture forgiveness, maybe the world could change, ultimately. I’m not saying next year. It could be a thousand years from now, if we’re still around,” he said.

The director said that it was an encounter with Pope Francis that inspired him to make the film.

Last year, Scorsese traveled to Italy with his wife to attend a conference titled the Global Aesthetics of the Catholic Imagination, after which he met briefly with Pope Francis.

He later said, “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.”


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