Steven Spielberg Is Plotting The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara


It may come as a surprise to some that, a full year after his phenomenal biopic Lincoln landed in theaters, legendary director Steven Spielberg still hasn’t locked down his next big screen venture. At this point in his career, the prolific helmer (behind such classics as Raiders of the Lost ArkClose Encounters of the Third KindJaws and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, in addition to many more) can certainly afford to be choosy with his projects, but such a long gap is unusual for Spielberg. Now, it appears he’s added another buzzy possibility to the already huge list of films he has expressed interest in: a historical drama titled The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.

Based on David Kertzer’s book of the same name, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara will tell the story of a young Jewish boy who, in 1858, is taken from his family by officers of the Inquisition. He is raised Catholic, eventually becoming a priest. Lincoln scribe Tony Kushner will write the screenplay for The Weinstein Company and DreamWorks, which formed a partnership in order to snag the rights. This won’t be a new project for Kushner, seeing as he was set to pen an adaptation a few years back, before opting instead for Lincoln.

At first appearances, the project sounds like a fascinating true-history tale that will put a premium on pulling at the heartstrings. With a huge assortment of historical dramas under his belt, including War HorseEmpire of the SunMunichSchindler’s ListSaving Private Ryan and Amistad, there’s no question that Spielberg is qualified (if not, indeed, most qualified of all directors working today) to bring The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara to the big screen. The only question is whether he’ll find the time.

Spielberg was most recently attached to direct a $200 million adaptation of the bestselling dystopian sci-fi novel Robopocalypse (though he halted production on that film right before it was due to get underway earlier this year). He’s also been involved with historical drama Montezuma, a West Side Story remake, a Martin Luther King Jr. biopic, and a variety of adaptations, including ones of Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes and children’s series The 39 Clues.

It’s easy to see that he’s a busy man, so there’s a real possibility that The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara could fit in way down the line, or not at all. Check out the synopsis and let us know whether you think the project is worth Spielberg’s efforts.

Bologna: nightfall, June 1858. A knock sounds at the door of the Jewish merchant Momolo Mortara. Two officers of the Inquisition bust inside and seize Mortara’s six-year-old son, Edgardo. As the boy is wrenched from his father’s arms, his mother collapses.  The reason for his abduction: the boy had been secretly “baptized” by a family servant.  According to papal law, the child is therefore a Catholic who can be taken from his family and delivered to a special monastery where his conversion will be completed. 

With this terrifying scene, prize-winning historian David I. Kertzer begins the true story of how one boy’s kidnapping became a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power.  The book evokes the anguish of a modest merchant’s family, the rhythms of daily life in a Jewish ghetto, and also explores, through the revolutionary campaigns of Mazzini and Garibaldi and such personages as Napoleon III, the emergence of Italy as a modern national state.  Moving and informative, the Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara reads as both a historical thriller and an authoritative analysis of how a single human tragedy changed the course of history.

Source: The Playlist