It’s been inferred since last year that Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming Jesus film would take an aslant approach to the greatest story ever told. Put simply and enigmatically by the man himself: “I don’t know what it’s going to be, exactly. I don’t know what you’d call it. It wouldn’t be a straight narrative. But there would be staged scenes. And I’d be in it.”

After furthers confirmations and intimations of what the film, an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s A Life of Jesus, will constitute, Father Antonio Spadaro––with whom Scorsese conversed for a series of interviews that form the recently published Italian book Dialoghi sulla fede (Dialogues on Faith)––has given Variety a close view of its intentions. Per Scorsese’s hopes to remove negative onuses from religion, Spadaro said the feature seeks “to recover this original experience that he had of the fully embodied, positive, open, complex spirituality in which he was trained” and filter the religious perspective through his own cinema. (Maybe better that than the less-than-ideal note he’s partnering with Fox Nation for a new religious series. Let’s see how the network’s characteristically MAGA viewership responds to any De Niro associations.)

The truly major coup, though, is this book’s excerpt from an early draft Scorsese had penned; it’s rather extraordinary on paper, mingling film footage with renditions of his earliest cinematic ambitions, and implies a continuation from Killers of the Flower Moon‘s astonishing final sequence.

You can find it below:

Let’s start immersed in the dark.

A painted image of Jesus’ face suddenly lights up the frame… then, just as quickly, it disappears into the darkness again.

CUT to a series of images: a simple wooden cross hanging above a neatly made bed in the apartment of a popular tenement… church windows with scenes from the life of Jesus… a marble sculpture of Mary holding the body of Jesus in her arms… a small gold cross next to a popular image of Jesus praying towards heaven… a child sitting at a table looking into tall the cross next to complex colorful drawings for a fictional film titled The Eternal City.

More images of Jesus: other mass-produced family portraits, short moving images from Intolerance, the silent version of [Cecil B. DeMille film] The King of Kings, [Henry Koster’s Biblical epic] The Robe and the sound version of King of Kings.

VOICE: Like millions of other children around the world, I grew up surrounded by images of Jesus, all based on a common idea of ​​his appearance and behavior: handsome, with wonderful long hair and beard, ascetic, pious…

A scene from Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew, the sermon on the mountain.

VOICE: When the idea of ​​making cinema started to become concrete, I had in mind to make a film about Christ in the modern world, in modern clothes, shot in 16mm and in black and white in the streets of New York, with apostles in suits and ties in old, peeling, weathered hallways, with the crucifixion set on the West Side piers and cops instead of centurions… my world. But then I saw Pasolini’s Christ. The setting wasn’t modern, but the feeling it conveyed was. There was the immediacy of Christ. Pasolini showed us a Jesus who was often heated and angry. Who fought… His film had made what I had in mind become quite superfluous, but it inspired me to keep going.

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