Acclaimed screenwriter, director and film critic Paul Schrader expressed his admiration for the series “The Chosen,” which just released the first two episodes of its third season in theaters. Schrader, who is an Oscar nominee and who wrote the screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” says “The Chosen” is “the exception” among typically lackluster faith-based films.
“THE CHOSEN,” said Schrader in a Nov. 20 Facebook post. “I’ve watched both seasons and went to the theatrical presentation of the first two [episodes] of season three. I previously was torn but fascinated. I wanted to comment a year ago but hesitated. Faith-based films are by in [sic] large entertainment schemes to reiterate previously held beliefs, enforce conformity and raise money. I am no longer torn. The Chosen is the exception.”
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Paul Schrader: ‘Staggered by the Accomplishment’
“The Chosen,” which launched in 2019, bills itself as the “first-ever multi-season series about the life of Christ.” It is crowdfunded and free for viewers to stream through The Chosen app. Episodes 1 and 2 of Season 3 were released in theaters on Nov. 18 to great success, grossing over $8 million over the weekend and ranking third in total weekend sales. The two movies that beat “The Chosen” were “The Menu,” which also debuted Nov. 18, and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” released Nov. 11.
Paul Schrader achieved widespread acclaim for writing the screenplay for the 1976 film, “Taxi Driver,” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Schrader continued to collaborate with Scorsese on the movies “Raging Bull,” “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Bringing Out the Dead.” Paul Schrader has won numerous awards throughout his career and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for his 2017 film, “First Reformed,” starring Ethan Hawke.
In his post, Schrader praised “The Chosen” as “far more than a Sunday School felt board illustration.” Rather, he said, “The writing is crisp, the acting to the point, its historical research meticulous. It’s about stories not preconceptions. At its center is Jesus, not the divine superhero, but Jesus the rabbi from Nazareth. The teacher bursting with original ideas.”
Schrader concluded, “I’m…staggered by the accomplishment of Dallas Jenkins who not only writes, directs and produces this series but has devised an epochal re-imagination of film financing in the tradition of Tom Laughlin and Reed Hastings.”
Dallas Jenkins, who creates, co-writes and directs “The Chosen,” responded to Schrader with gratitude, saying:
Thank you. The ending of Taxi Driver is one of the most beautiful moments of redemption I’ve witnessed in cinema, and it influenced me greatly. The Chosen is, yes, a love letter from an evangelical Christian (me) to Jesus and the gospels, and yes, some of your fans will go check it out and think, “sentimental spiritual hogwash,” I’m sure. But it’s as influenced by the films of the 70s as anything else, and I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve posted. And one of my co-writers, Ryan, is a massive fan…thank you for your films and your contribution to our DNA.