Martin Scorsese is on tour in Italy after Cannes, where the director, known for his religious leanings, met Pope Francis over the weekend, and announced he was going to direct a film about Christ.
“I have answered the pope’s call to artists in the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a movie script about Jesus,” Scorsese declared Saturday during the Rome Conference at the Vatican, according to multiple reports. “And I’m about to start making it,” the director added, suggesting that this could be his next film.
Also Saturday, before attending the conference — titled “The Aesthetics of the Global Catholic Imagination” — Scorsese and his wife, Helen Morris, met Pope Francis during a brief private audience at the Vatican.
The conference was organized by the Jesuit publishing house La Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University. On the publication’s website, Antonio Spadaro, editor of the religious magazine, said that as they spoke at Scorsese’s Konab conference they alternated between references to his films and personal anecdotes and explained “how the Holy Father’s invitation” to allow us to see Jesus “moved him,” he said.
In terms of film references, during the conversation Scorsese expressed his admiration for Pier Paolo Pasolini’s book The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Scorsese also spoke about the meaning of the 1988 epic The Last Temptation of Christ and the “next step in his search for the figure of Jesus” represented by the smaller 2016 drama Silence about the persecution of Jesuit Christians in 17th-century Japan. This movie was shown in 2016 in the Vatican. Francis is the first Jesuit Pope and is known to have joined the Jesuit Order with the hope of becoming a missionary in Japan.
Scorsese’s director Rick Yorn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the director’s new religion-related project.
Scorsese’s Italian tour also includes a series of screenings of his films, along with works that have inspired his body of work, which he will present on Monday at Rome’s Casa del Cinema; Tuesday master class for students of the Centro Spermental Film School in Rome; and a conversation on stage this Friday in Bologna where he will be the guest of the Cineteca di Bologna, the film archive that runs the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival dedicated to the heritage film.
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