Paul Verhoeven is known for such films as “Basic Instinct,” in which a character portrayed by actress Sharon Stone uncrosses her legs and shockingly reveals her female privates, and “Showgirls,” about a stripper who aspires to be a Vegas showgirl.
Given not only those films, but his entire body of work – “(e)xplicitly violent and/or sexual content ”are his trademarks, according to Wikipedia – there is hardly any filmmaker less worthy of making a picture about Jesus Christ.
But that’s precisely what Verhoeven intends to do.
In fact, the Hollywood trades reported this week that the Dutch filmmaker has managed to secure financial backing for his highly controversial project, and to find a scriptwriter to bring the gospel of Verhoeven to the screen.
Of course, there are some who would urge a reservation of judgment until the film actually makes it to theaters. But there is absolutely no reason to expect Verhoeven’s film to be anything other than offensive to true-believing Christians.
Not when his financial backer is Chris Hanley of Muse Productions, whose most noteworthy credit is “American Psycho,” a supposed “psychological thriller” about a serial killer.
Not when his scriptwriter is Roger Avary, who shared writing credits with Quentin Tarentino on “Pulp Fiction,” which featured a character played by actor Samuel L. Jackson, who sacriligiously quoted Scripture before shooting and killing his victims.
And, most importantly, not when the film is to be based on the book Verhoeven himself authored, almost mockingly titled “Jesus of Nazareth,” which challenges the veracity of the New Testament narratives of Matthew, Mark, John and Luke.
Verhoeven rejects fundamental Christian tenets: That Jesus is the Son of God. That He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. That he performed all manner of miracles. That He not only died on the cross, but also rose from the dead. That only through Christ are any of us saved.
The filmmaker not only believes that Jesus was mortal, but that He likely was the product of His mother Mary being raped by a Roman soldier. And Christ was no Messiah, Verhoeven is convinced, and surely had no idea He would be crucified.
In the filmmaker’s view, Jesus was little more than a political activist. “The Romans saw [Jesus] as an insurrectionist,” he explains. “what today is often called a terrorist.”
And forget about Heaven, said Verhoeven.
“For Jesus,” he maintains, “the Kingdom of Heaven was a very tangible thing. Something that was already present on Earth, in the same way that Che Guevara proclaimed Marxism as the advent of world change.”
Jesus the son of a rapist Roman soldier? Christ a former day terrorist? The Son of God the forerunner of Che Guevara?
That is the portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth that Verhoeven plans to bring to the big screen. The devil himself couldn’t do a more unholy job of revisionism.