Steven Spielberg Lines Up ‘The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara’ As Potential Directing Gig

By April 18, 2014

It’s been two years since Steven Spielberg has directed a film (2012’s Lincoln), and as busy as The Beard is producing projects left and right, we’re guessing he’s itching to get back in the director’s chair himself. Variety reports that the world’s most famous living director has lined up a new project called The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara that will once again reunite him with Lincoln & Munich writer Tony Kushner.

Based on David Kertzer’s nonfiction book, the film will tell the true story of “an Italian Jew who became the center of an international controversy in 1858 when he was removed from his parents at the age of 7 by authorities of the Papal States and raised as a Catholic.” Amazon’s description of the book offers a better idea of why Spielberg is interested in the concept:

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.

Historical projects seem to be right up Spielberg’s alley these days with War Horse, Lincoln, and Munich all coming out in the past decade, and with the religious angle to this one, it could be an opportunity for Spielberg to tackle some big ideas and possibly create something that stirs up a little bit of controversy. Still, Variety’s report indicates that Spielberg is definitely going to produce this film, but he’s still not 100% confirmed to direct it, and even if he were, this wouldn’t be his next directorial effort.

Insiders report that he’s currently deciding between Steve Zallian’s Montezuma or the delayed sci-fi thriller Robopocalypse, which was put on hold after Spielberg wasn’t thrilled with the screenplay. That project, originally written by Drew Goddard, has completed rewrites (though I’m not clear whether Goddard handled the rewrites or if someone else stepped in to tackle those duties), and is thus the closest to being ready to get started should Spielberg choose that as his next gig. Chris Hemsworth is reportedly still on board to star in Robopocalypse, so I’d personally like to see that project come together soon. I’m sure we’ll know more in the coming days, but that’s all the info we have for now.

Which project do you want to see Spielberg direct next?

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.