Last summer Warner Bros. bought a script by Vera Blasi titled Pontius Pilate about the man who ultimately let Jesus Christ be put to death, despite his mixed feelings about the matter. Not much has been said about the film since the script was bought, but now Brad Pitt is reported to be interested in the titular role.
Mike Fleming Jr. at Deadline acquired a copy of the script last year and posted a very detailed and enlightening summary of what he read. Check it out below.
This script follows the evolution of Lucius Pontius Pilate from the sensitive son of a Roman Knight into a ferocious soldier whose warrior exploits make him a general and puts him on a political track under the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Promised a military governorship in Egypt, Pilate is instead assigned by Tiberius to become the prefect of Judea, at a time when Jerusalem was a cauldron of religious tensions between various factions of the Jewish faith. Pilate veers from the political fast track into the express lane to hell and historical infamy. Rather than a straight ahead Biblical film, Blasi’s script reads almost like a Biblical era Twilight Zone episode in which a proud, capable Roman soldier gets in way over his head. His arrogance and inability to grasp the devoutness of the citizenry and its hatred for the Roman occupiers and their pagan gods leads him to make catastrophic decisions. All of this puts him in a desperate situation and in need of public approval when he is asked to decide the fate of a 33-year old rabbi accused by religious elders of claiming he is King of the Jews. Along the way, such Roman emperors including Caligula and Tiberius and New Testament figures like John the Baptist, Salome and Mary Magdalene are seen in a tale that culminates with Pilate’s fateful decision to allow Jesus Christ to be crucified. It is hard to put a new spin on the Greatest Story Ever Told, but the script had the twists and unexpected turns that satisfyingly combine history, political maneuvering and storytelling inventions reminiscent of such films as Braveheart and Gladiator.
The part about a “Biblical era Twilight Zone episode” especially piques my attention. Any film about Pilate is going to be controversial, but if this take on the story is as unique as it sounds, it should be an especially polarizing film.
For the Bible to be filled with so many phenomenal stories, there has been a major lack of big-budget films based on its contents, especially in recent years. There was The Passion Of The Christ in 2004, and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is set to hit theaters in 2014, but other than that many great stories still haven’t been tapped. Perhaps it’s for fear of scaring away non-Christian viewers, but regardless of religious beliefs, good stories can be found from the Bible’s contents.
The story of Pilate is definitely one of the untapped stories that has great potential. There are high-stakes, great drama, and the struggle between morals and a political career. If Pitt does indeed sign on, the film should be all the more intriguing for it.