Paul Verhoeven Ponders A Jesus Movie, Talks 'Passion Of The Christ'

'When you read the book, you can see there is a film there,' director says of his 'Jesus of Nazareth' tome.

[movieperson id="173917"]Paul Verhoeven[/movieperson], director of the sci-fi classics "RoboCop" and "Total Recall," as well as the titillating late-night cable staples "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls," has long planned a feature film about Jesus Christ. The plan was to strip out the religious figure's divinity and reveal what Verhoeven sees as a lost humanity to his teachings.

He feared that as he removed what he called "Christian spin" from Jesus, he'd only be inserting his own "director's spin." Hence the book "Jesus of Nazareth," Verhoeven's recently translated tome about Jesus that thrusts aside talk of miracles and focuses on his words and ethics.

"To start with a book would be more honest and illuminating than a movie," the director told MTV News.

Verhoeven, though, still holds out hope of adapting the book for the big screen. "I'm not sure I would immediately jump on a Jesus-film train," he explained. "I might take my time and do something else first and then consider if I could find a way. When you read the book, you can see there is a film there. Jesus, in my opinion, was much more dangerous, adventurous than normally shown."

Jesus as an action hero? Not exactly. But Verhoeven argues that Jesus was consistently persecuted throughout his life, surrounded by enemies and forced to flee at every turn. While the director admits his portrait of Jesus may be perceived as provocative, he describes his portrait of Jesus as a work of scholarship.

"Is it controversial?" he said. "It's the truth."

One film about Jesus that he does not see as truthful is Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." "He reduced it to two hours of suffering. According to the dogma of the Church, the suffering of Jesus frees us of every sin," Verhoeven said. "In my opinion, that's completely not true. Secondary, the suffering of Jesus is not the important thing. It's terrible, but many people have terrible endings. Even with sicknesses that are so horrifying that crucifixion that took six hours is perhaps not even that important in comparison to what people have to go through, especially if they are wounded, loose limbs, whatever. Terrible things happen in the world. I think that's not the essence. The world is full of violence and terrible things. The whole universe is filled with disaster."

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