In this month’s Empire magazine Paul Verhoeven opened up about his upcoming project based, perhaps surprisingly, on the life of Jesus.
“Well, first of all it is a book,” says Verhoeven. “It may be a film after. Essentially it is about Jesus the human being. That's a big step isn’t it? To see him only as a human being, and it’s as historical as possible. It really goes into the politics of the time and tries to show a lot of things that have been buried and eliminated by Christianity. My scriptwriter told me not to do the movie in the United States because they might shoot me. So I took his advice and decided to write a book about it first.”
So are we talking more Passion of the Christ or Last Temptation? “My [portrayal of Jesus’] life will be much more realistic and much more historical. I just want to go for what is historically, sociologically and politically real, and is defendable. I mean we couldn’t have the scene of Jesus praying at Golgotha when everyone else is sleeping. How could we have a report of that when everyone’s sleeping? That’s a contradiction in the text already. So all those will be eliminated.
And Gibson’s film? “It seemed to be saying the more blood is shed the more we are purified. I mean, honestly, such a thing is not possible. Nobody is purifying anybody else. The Church, not knowing how to handle the death of Jesus, this idea had to be presented. It is the ultra-fabrication. This is a corrective to 2,000 years of Christianity. I don’t know what the title will be but the tagline should be something like ‘Getting Jesus Back!”
Well, it’s something of a break from the norm for the director of Showgirls and Starship Troopers, but it will be interesting. “I was interested in Black Magic and the Occult and then started to be interested in miracles [laughs]. My view was always, “Well this is impossible, in fact it’s self-contradictory”. So I became interested in the historical facts: what time did he get up and so on. I feel like Hercule Poirot investigating Jesus!”
For more from Paul Verhoeven on this and other projects, as well as much more, pick up this month’s issue of Empire.