Martin Scorsese is Making Another Movie About Jesus

Martin Scorsese, whose film credits include the controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ and 2016's Silence -- a drama about religious persecution -- is apparently set to begin production on a new film about the life of Jesus. The announcement came at "The Global Aesthetics of the Catholic Imagination," a conference held in Italy by Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University, with Pope Francis in attendance. Francis, who became pope in 2013, is the first Jesuit to get the job, which is relevant because Silence, which was screened at the Vatican in 2016, was about Jesuit Christians in 17th Century Japan.

Scorsese's announcement comes after a request by Pope Francis for artists to create more faith-based content. According to Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, the filmmaker was "moved" by Francis's appeal.

"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," Scorsese said (via Variety). "And I'm about to start making it."

Scorsese, who is on a broader tour of Italy that will include film screenings and a masterclass, cited Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew as a cinematic inspiration.

According to the Variety story, Scorsese and his wife Helen Morris also had a brief, private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday.

Scorsese's 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ starred Willem Dafoe as Jesus, and centered on exactly what it sounds like: a Jesus whose final moments saw him doubting his role as Messiah, tempted by visions of an ordinary life. It was based on a 1955 book by Nikos Kazantzakis, who was excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church after he wrote it; and both the book and later Scorsese's film was condemned by Christian groups and banned by the Catholic Church -- something other Christians and most scholars have questioned, since the Bible openly depicts Jesus asking God to lift his burden, before accepting his fate and doing what he had to do.

Here's the official synopsis for The Last Temptation of Christ, since we don't have any real details about what Scorsese has planned next.

Jesus (Willem Dafoe), a humble Judean carpenter beginning to see that he is the son of God, is drawn into revolutionary action against the Roman occupiers by Judas (Harvey Keitel) -- despite his protestations that love, not violence, is the path to salvation. The burden of being the savior of mankind torments Jesus throughout his life, leading him to doubt. As he is put to death on the cross, Jesus is tempted by visions of an ordinary life married to Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey).