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Steven Spielberg Adds Religious Drama ‘The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara’ To List Of Possible Directorial Projects

Steven Spielberg Adds Religious Drama 'The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara' To List Of Possible Directorial Projects

So what is Steven Spielberg going to direct next? That’s a question even he probably doesn’t quite know the answer to yet, not that he isn’t giving himself options. “Robopocalypse,” which was supposed to be his next project, is on hold while he’s also got “Montezuma” and a possible “West Side Story” remake to consider, and now he’s throwing another on the pile.

The Weinstein Company and DreamWorks have teamed up, nabbing the rights to David Kertzer‘s book “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara,” slating Tony Kushner (“Lincoln,” “Munich“) to write the screenplay, for Spielberg to possibly direct. Not a bad way to start, and the material is pretty compelling. It tells the story of a young Jewish boy, who in 1858, is snatched by the authorities from his home, winds up being raised Catholic and becomes a priest. Here’s the full blown book synopsis from Amazon

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.

Sounds like it has great potential, and Kushner is familiar with it, having been tapped to adapt the story in 2008, before bouncing to do “Lincoln” instead. This isn’t expected to be Spielberg’s next project, it’s one to keep an eye on his other options rise and fall through the development process. [THR]

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