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Paul Verhoeven on ‘Benedetta’ and Making a Film About Jesus

I see these things and I write, or co-write, and direct them because I think they’re interesting. But even if I felt that it is provocative, then I would say, especially in the case of “Benedetta,” that, yes, perhaps it is provocative, but it’s the truth, it really happened. I refuse to be afraid of provocation. All that stuff has to do with sexuality, which is at the moment under stress, isn’t it? I feel, also because of the reactions to the movie, that people are kind of really irritated if there is an emphasis on sexuality.

What do you think of those who question whether sex scenes are even necessary in movies?

Nothing is necessary in movies. [Laughs.] The most important, perhaps the two or three most important things in life, is sexuality. We all do it. The question of why it’s necessary to show it — well, you show life, don’t you? If the question is: Why show it? The counter question is: Why not show it?

Are you still working on a movie about Jesus?

I am. For a long time I made mistakes and tried to invent too much stuff that was not in the Gospels. I feel that I should be closer to the Gospels but look at them in a different way. I’m also working with Ed Neumeier, who [co-wrote] “RoboCop” and [wrote] “Starship Troopers,” on a Washington thriller called “Young Sinners.” The protagonist is a young woman. It’s a little bit pushed in the future, but not science fiction. It’s something that is dear to my heart.

That would be your first American film since the science-fiction-ish thriller “Hollow Man” in 2000. Are you excited at the idea of working here again?

I’ve been following the politics of the United States so precisely the past 20 years that I feel I know enough to do that movie. I wouldn’t have dared 20 years ago, but now I think I have as much insight as necessary.

It feels that American politics have caught up to the ruthlessness of the Verhoeven world.

[Laughs.] That might be the attraction.

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