Martin Scorsese Reveals Why He Didn’t Direct ‘Schindler’s List’: “I’m not Jewish””

Martin Scorsese Reveals Why He Didn’t Direct ‘Schindler’s List’: “I’m not Jewish””

After thirty-some years, Martin Scorsese is telling the world why he turned down the possibility of directing Schindler’s List, the acclaimed Holocaust-themed film that was ultimately done by Steven Spielberg.

In a recent interview with Deadline, Scorsese said that his decision to turn the project over to Spielberg was prompted after the response to his 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ, a controversial portrayal of Jesus that did not meet the approval of some Christians.

Scorsese said,  “I did [Last Temptation…] a certain way, and Schindler’s List was scuttled by its reception. I did the best I could. I went around the world. Any arguments, I took ’em on. I may have been wrong, but I’m not sure you can be wrong with dogma. But we could argue it.”

Scorsese was ultimately concerned that his being a Christian would impact the reception of Schindler’s List if he directed it. “I knew there were Jewish people upset that the writer of The Diary of Anne Frank was gentile,” he said.

As he continued, “I used the phrase at the time, ‘I’m not Jewish.’…I wasn’t being altruistic, but it just made sense to me that [Spielberg] was the person who really should go through this. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the situation.”

After being nominated thirteen times, including for Last Temptation… Scorsese finally won an Oscar for best director in 2007, for The Departed. In his Deadline interview, he also reminisced about how Francis Ford Coppola had recommended him to Paramount in the 1970s to direct The Godfather Part II, noting that “I don’t think I could have made a film on that level at that time in my life, and who I was at that time … Now, I would’ve made something interesting, but [Coppola]’s maturity was already there. I still had this kind of edgy thing, the wild kid running around.”

The 80-year-old Scorsese still has some of that “wild kid” running around. His most recent project, Killers of the Flower Moon is set for release in October by Paramount, and will stream on Apple TV+. An adaptation of David Grann’s 2017 book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, and Jesse Plemons.

Check out more of Edward’s articles.

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