As you may or may not know, Martin Scorsese was originally slated to direct the powerful 1993 historical drama Schindler’s List. in a recent interview with Submission deadline; termination periodScorsese talked about why he didn’t direct the film and left it in capable and caring hands. Steven Spielberg.
There were various reasons why Scorsese decided to go with this film project, and he explained:
“For Schindler’s List I hired Steve Zaillian and Steve and I worked on the script. I wanted to lead him. But I had reservations at a certain point. Remember, this is 1990, I say. In 1988, I filmed The Last Temptation of Christ. The purpose of this movie was to start a conversation about something that is still important to me, which is the nature of love—the true nature—can be god, can be Jesus. . I’m not being culturally ambivalent here, it’s something within us. Is God within us? I really am; I can’t help it. I love learning about it.”
Scorsese then explained that he felt Oskar Schindler’s story would be better served by being told by a Jew, and why Spielberg was the director who brought the project on board:
“Regarding Schindler’s List, I was so traumatized that I wanted to look into the subject… I knew there were Jews who were upset that the author of The Diary of Anne Frank was a Gentile. I heard there were complaints about Schindler, who used prisoners to make money from them. I said, “Wait a minute.” I can’t defend him, but I could argue who he is. I think he was a great person, but I didn’t know if I was equipped for it at the time. I had no knowledge. I remember Steve Spielberg over the years, always reminding me of this. When we were flying to Cannes, he held up the book and he said, “This is my dark film, and I’m going to do it.”
“I used the phrase ‘I am not Jewish’ then.” What I was trying to say was the old story about the journey a Jewish man had to make through that world, and I think Stephen learned that. Here he comes… (pause) Where is Fablelmans located, Phoenix? He told me there were only 200 Jews in Phoenix. I couldn’t believe it. Because I come from the Lower East Side and grew up with a Jewish community. I wasn’t altruistic, but it made sense to me that he was the one who really had to go through this. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fix the situation.”
In the end, Scorsese made the right decision, and Spielberg went out and made an incredibly powerful film that is beautiful, emotional, and gut-wrenching.