"in his newly published diary, Luc Dardenne mentions a couple of times that he and Jean-Pierre are thinking about making a Jesus film. I don't have it with me at the moment, but he writes something like, 'this would not be the story of his life, but a snapshot of his reality; the faces, places, bodies, and interactions of his world' or something like that. He insisted they'd shoot it in Israel."I've not been able to find the source of this quote, or much information about this project other than a tentative title - A Jew Named Jesus. There is apparently some information about this project in their published diary, which has been out since at least 2005.
I'm fascinated by this news (and surprised I'd missed it before). The Dardenne brothers are incredible film makers and it would be great to see them have a go at the material. Some might argue that they have already visited this material at least once in Le Fils (my brief review). That said it's also a marked departure from their other films, which are generally set around the peripheries of everyday modern life.
I'm reminded of two other great film makers who wanted to make films about Jesus. The first is Carl Dreyer. Both have produced a number of landmark films many of which are deeply spiritual. There are certain similarities in their styles of film making, and obviously they both work outside the Hollywood mainstream. Like the Dardennes, Dreyer also wanted his film to emphasise Jesus's Jewishness. Sadly Dreyer's dreams were never fulfilled.
The other is George Stevens. Like the Dardenne brothers he had already made a critically acclaimed film who's central character is a Christ figure (Shane). Stevens succeeded where Dreyer failed and managed to bring his Jesus film to the big screen. But The Greatest Story Ever Told was roundly criticised, and not a few commentators have noted that having made one masterful telling of the Christ story he shouldn't have attempted to revisit the material.
Hopefully the Dardennes will manage to avoid the pitfalls of both Dreyer and Stevens. Watch this space.