Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Resolution has signed maverick director Paul Verhoeven. The filmmaker had been at ICM Partners, but that became tenuous after his primary, Nicole Clemens, left to take an executive job at FX. He continues with longtime manager Marion Rosenberg.

It has been awhile since the blockbuster phase Verhoeven fell into right after arriving from the Netherlands when he helmed Robocop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct. The first two of those have been re-made, and it seems just a matter of time for the latter. The blockbusters ended with the release of Showgirls, a flop now regarded as something of a camp classic. More recently, Verhoeven’s Black Book was nominated for a BAFTA. He has other projects, but continues to work toward getting up and running with a movie informed by his book Jesus Of Nazareth. Muse Productions’ Chris Hanley, whose credits include American Psycho, has been funding development of a project that Verhoeven researched for two decades. Script is being written by Roger Avary, who shared the Academy Award for Best Original Script with Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction.

Verhoeven has been obsessed with the enduring legacy of Jesus Christ, but he has never embraced the miracles and resurrection that are detailed in The New Testament. That includes the virgin birth and the resurrection. Verhoeven doesn’t believe any of them happened. I wrote about Verhoeven’s ambitions in spring 2011, and it has been rough sledding. Among the theories spun by Verhoeven in the book: Jesus might have been the product of his mother being raped by a Roman soldier, which Verhoeven said was commonplace at the time, and that Jesus was a radical prophet who performed exorcisms and was convinced he would find the kingdom of Heaven on earth, and did not know he would be sentenced to die on the cross by Pontius Pilate.

Despite all this, Verhoeven is fascinated by the power of the message Christ preached which has kept him first and foremost in the minds of Christians for 2000 years. Verhoeven feels too many take Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins as a free pass to misbehave, because they think they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions. He feels that the value of Christ’s journey is the opportunity to emulate his life and the values he held dear, like forgiveness.

“If you look at the man, it’s clear you have a person who was completely innovative in the field of ethics,” Verhoeven told me. “My own passion for Jesus came when I started to realize that. It’s not about miracles, it’s about a new set of ethics, an openness towards the world, which was anathema in a Roman-dominated world. I believe he was crucified because they felt that politically, he was a dangerous person whose following was getting bigger and bigger. Jesus’ ideals are about the utopia of human behavior, about how we should treat each other, how we should step into the shoes of our enemy.”

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