Paul Verhoeven still wants to make that movie about Jesus


Paul Verhoeven — the man behind such sci-fi hits as RoboCop and Starship Troopers, plus such sexually charged films as Basic Instinct and Showgirls — has been talking about making a movie about Jesus for almost thirty years now, ever since he first attended a meeting of the Jesus Seminar in 1988. The subject came up again this week when Verhoeven — whose subversive critical hit Elle gets a limited release in U.S. theatres today — spoke to to promote his newest film.

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Regina Hall to star in a thriller called The Surrogate. Is this identical to the movie Halle Berry almost starred in?

Five years ago, it was reported that Paul Verhoeven was going to direct The Surrogate, a thriller based on a Christian novel and produced by one of the industry’s best-known Christian producers.

It was also reported that Halle Berry might star in the film, as a wife who is so desperate for a child that she turns to a surrogate mother, only to discover afterwards that the woman carrying her baby is insane.

Verhoeven was still talking about the film a year later, but I haven’t heard a peep about it since. As of now, however, I wonder if the project might be happening again, but with a different creative team.

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Newsbites: From Moses to Jesus to the end of the world

It looks like Ridley Scott’s Moses movie might really be happening. The Hollywood Reporter says Joel Edgerton — who recently co-starred in Zero Dark Thirty and The Great Gatsby — is in talks to play the Pharaoh. As in most other big-screen versions of the Moses story, the Pharaoh of this film will be Ramesses II.

The film, called Exodus, already has Christian Bale attached to play Moses. The film will be shot in Spain, Morocco and England, and shooting could start as early as next month, so expect more casting news soon.

Meanwhile, in other casting news, the remake of Left Behind started filming last Friday, and the filmmakers have already had to replace one of their actors. Due to scheduling conflicts, Big Love alumnus Cassi Thomson has replaced Ashley Tisdale in the part of Chloe Steele, daughter of the airplane pilot played by Nicolas Cage.

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Yet another mini-series about Jesus now in the works.

So, while I was polishing off my last couple of Jesus-themed posts, the Hollywood Reporter posted a story to the effect that yet another mini-series about Jesus is currently in the works.

The projected six-hour mini-series is called Jesus of Nazareth, and is not to be confused with Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 mini-series or the film that Paul Verhoeven has been talking about making for decades (and which, according to the Reporter, is currently stalled for lack of a screenwriter).

The new mini-series is currently being developed by Michael Landon Jr. (pictured) and producer Brian Bird, who have collaborated on a number of Christian films. [Read more…]

The gospel according to film

Jesus at the Movies: A Guide to the First Hundred Years
By W. Barnes Tatum
Polebridge Press, 245 pp., $18

John Dominic Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar and one of the wittiest historians working today, began his landmark work The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant with the quip that historical Jesus scholarship had become something of a bad joke. The same could be said of that peculiar genre of films based on the life of Jesus, but for a very different reason.

Crossan was responding to the many competing and contradictory accounts of the life of Jesus that have been produced by modern historians. But moviegoers tend to be cynical for a very different reason. In their efforts to please as wide an audience as possible, filmmakers who tackle the gospels have tended to make Jesus a rather bland, anemic figure who has remained surprisingly constant and unchallenging over the years. Even revisionist films like The Last Temptation of Christ emphasize his weaknesses more than his strengths.

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