The 80-year-old filmmaker received a 9-minute standing ovation at Cannes, but he seemed even more touched by meeting the Pope.
While on a European tour for the Cannes Film Festival, filmmaker Martin Scorsese took some time to meet Pope Francis. The Goodfellas director attended a gathering at the Vatican last weekend, joining a group of 40 poets, writers, and artists who were honored by the Pope. Afterward, Scorsese announced that he intended to make a new film that focuses on Jesus.
The trip has been something of a victory lap for the 80-year-old writer/director, whose latest film Killers of the Flower Moon received a 9-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in France. On his European tour, Scorsese is also set to host a master class at a Roman film school and attend a retrospective of his films at Rome’s Casa del Cinema cinematheque. While these are big honors, to be sure, Scorsese seemed most touched by his time with il Papa.
According to Vatican News, the May 27 meeting with Pope Francis was part of a conference for artists called “The Global Esthetics of the Catholic Imagination.” The Pontiff hailed the efforts of authors to help people understand “more profoundly the human heart,” as well as visual artists who act as “eyes that see and dream.” The Pope said:
“You are among those who shape our imagination,” as your “work has an impact on the spiritual imagination of the people of our time, especially regarding the figure of Christ.” He stressed that “we need the genius of new language, powerful stories and images, writers, poets and artists capable of proclaiming to the world the message of the Gospel, allowing us to see Jesus.”
See more of what the Pope said here:
I’ve responded to the Pope’s appeal the only way I know how …
People reports that Scorsese was so moved by his meeting with Pope Francis that when he left he announced his new project:
“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 stated, adding, “And I’m about to start making it.”
Scorsese is no stranger to Catholic themed films, with his most famous being The Last Temptation of Christ, starring Willem Dafoe, in 1988. The film was met with harsh criticism for its dramatization of biblical events and was protested and even banned in some countries. It is still prohibited in the Philippines and Singapore. The Vatican and Scorsese mended their relationship in 2016, when he released the film Silence, which follows the true story of Portuguese missionaries traveling to Japan in the 17th century.
There is not much known about Scorsese’s newly announced project, other than that it will in some way focus on Jesus. It will be interesting to see what aspect of Christ’s life and ministry Scorsese will choose to cover, as his selection may place his film in direct competition with releases like The Chosen, as well as the announced sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.