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I've always felt that Roger Avery never got his fair shake in Hollywood. Largely known for his work writing with Quentin Tarantino back in the early 1990s - remember when he won an Oscar for Pulp Fiction? - 2002 brought the vastly underrated Bret Easton Ellis adaptation The Rules of Attraction. As you can probably tell by the word "underrated," though, the movie never exactly took off at the box office and Avery's work has been limited since, his last screenplay coming in the form of Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf. But now Paul Verhoeven of all people is giving him the chance to climb back on top.
Deadline reports that Verhoeven has hired Avery to adapt a film version of Jesus of Nazareth, the controversial book co-written by Verhoeven about the life and times of Jesus Christ. The project will join the ranks of other Christ based films such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, but also finds itself as part of a new wave of biblical adaptations. Darren Aronofsky is currently in pre-production on Noah, his version of the Noah's Ark tale, while Steven Spielberg is currently developing the story of Passover and how Moses got the Jewish people out of Egypt for a feature. Verhoeven, who plans on directing the project, worked on the book for twenty years, immersing himself in the history.
What makes the book so controversial is how it treats "facts" that were presented in the bible. In addition to removing all of the stuff about miracles - including the immaculate conception and resurrection, the book also espouses that Jesus was born after his mother was raped by a Roman solider. The site says that Verhoeven's goal with the book wasn't to taunt the Christian community or stir up trouble, but rather to fixate "on Christ not for the miracles... but rather in the enduring power of the message Christ preached which have kept him first and foremost in the minds of Christians for 2000 years." Chris Hanley of Muse productions has signed on to produce the film.
Are you interested in seeing Paul Verhoeven's take on the New Testament? Do you think Roger Avery is the proper writer for the job? Let us know what you think.