on March 1, 2004
A disclaimer appears prior to the start of this movie that clearly states that this film is fiction and is not considered by Scorcese to tbe the 5th Gospel. Therefore, this film is not blasphemy.
I am a strong Christian and this is one my favorite Jesus movies. I approached this film with an open mind, reserving my criticism until the movie was over. Scorcese said that in this portrayal Jesus doesn't sin,but he does: he says after the stoning of the prostitute scene that he "wanted to kill" those people trying to stone Mary Magdelene. In scripture Christ Himself states that wanting to kill somebody is a sin. That aside, this film is not blasphemy. It simply presents the what-ifs.
You are to watch this film and ponder whether or not Jesus was tempted on the cross (Don't you think he would have felt the urge to get down?). This film is an excellent life-application tool for Christians as well. Jesus meets John the Baptist, who has a rather crazy following. His followers all run around naked, and try to exorcise their demons and pay for their sins by cutting themselves, among other things. John the Baptist tells Jesus that he prepared thw way for Jesus: with an axe. He hands Jesus the axe and tells him to wreak vengeance on those who don't obey God.
In many ways, this is a trap Christians can get into. We sometimes aren't very compassionate to sinners and act very pious. The Catholic Church in particular has a dark history of punishing sinners and pagans.
Later, Jesus changes his message from one of wrath and law to one of love and gospel. This is the way Christians should behave.
At one point jesus is sitting next to the edge of a cliff, and in a fit of anger, throws a rock over the cliff, and yells "God hates me! God want to toss me over!" We can all relate to that feeling. Sometimes we are overcome by sins that we feel that God is angry with us and wants to punish us.
The scene of most controversy is the last temptation, which is ridiculous. There is nothing sinful about Jesus getting married and then having sex with Mary. That is sex INSIDE wedlock, and the sex scene is very passive. (The scene previous to it is with Mary wearing a crown of flowers and hugging Jesus. This is their wedding. This scene is pretty passive, so people think that the next scene (sex) is premarital) It is only a temptation, it never happens. The last 30 minutes of the film are all a temptation, an exploration of Jesus' earthly life had he rejected his chosen crucifixion and lived a mortal life. On his death bed Jesus realizes his mistake and pleads to God to have him crucified. Jesus stays on the cross and saves mankind.
A very moving film. Please note that neither I nor Martin Scorsese believe that this is a true account. It simply explores the possibilities of just how human the human side of Jesus' dual nature MIGHT have been. Highly recommended. I will warn Christians considering viewing this movie that you should take the disclaimer to heart and that there is lots of nudity in this film that might offend you.
on March 12, 2006
To fathom the depth of this film, one should might first recall the school church scene in Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" where the vicar is excrutiatingly reminding the congregation just how really big, powerful, and awesome Christ is. Yet that scene underlines the difficulty in reducing Christ to the bigscreen; how could the screen ever be big enough for him?
And this is Scorcese's accomplishment. His "LTC" puts a much more human face to Christ. One can understand this vision of God: stricken by human foible, marred by errors in judgment, and somewhat frustrated because life was not unfolding exactly the way he thought he wanted. Yet piercing that most human journey is the certainty that his life had meaning. This is a Jesus Christ to whom every person regardless of religion can easily identify. Make some noble sacrifice for your family or friends - or a stranger - and you will understand my point.
Scocese convincingly conveys that particular message. The acting is relaxed - daring in a film about JC but normal for a film about ordinary people facing life's turmoils. The cinematography is breath-taking; the stark desert's immense charm is perfectly captured and underscores the large stakes in JC's very personal human battle. The editing is crisp and little dialogue is wasted.
While Mel Gibson's "Passion" may be more concerned with fact, Scorcese's accomplishment is more attentive to the life of everyday man. If one wants to see a crucificion and witness Christ's physical suffering, watch "Passion". If one seeks some more empathic means to grasp at what Christ may have endured in terms all can grasp, watch "LTC".
on June 30, 2004
One of the most hilarious reviews written here by a costumer can be found easily on this page, just move the mouse down. The reviewer calls the people that have seen "The Last Temptation Of The Christ" "sick hypocrits".
According to him we are "blasphemers to say and believe that Jesus had ever given into temptation of satan by ignoring His duty on the cross (author's note: we all know that Jesus was in great pain when he had his last temptation) and marrying Mary Magdalene and having children. You really wanna see what BLASPHEMY truly is: This piece of filth! Do not watch it! You'll be sorry if you did! That's why I didn't watch it." (LOL)
Hilarious, no? The reviewer clearly doesn't know anything about forgiveness. Well, I forgive this reviewer (I learned how to forgive not from the Bible, but from "The Last Temptation Of Christ") for calling me (and U2) "sick hypocrits".
Okay, now about the movie. I rented it when I was fifteen and I was so moved by it I watched again 5 times before returning to the videostore. Thanks to "The Last Temptation Of Christ' I "found" Jesus. Martin Scorsese's films are great and this one is my personal favorite. Willem Dafoe is the best actor to play Jesus in cinema history. Harvey Keitel gives us a Judah who has feelings and even loves Jesus. Barbara Hershey, David Bowie and Harry Dean Stanton along with the girl who plays Satan act excellent. And Peter Gabriel's music for this film is as passionate as art itself, it's above brilliant!! The DVD extras are great. Very cool stuff. For the people who have seen "The Passion Of The Christ" I beg you to see "The Last Temptation Of Christ". If you're afraid God may punishing for watching such a act of faith -- please put the blame on me. Mea culpa.
on May 28, 2004
First of all, this area is SUPPOSED to be for reviews of this movie, not dire warnings of damnation if one watches it. It is JUST a movie....something tells me Jesus and his believers can survive it. Please don't turn this forum into a religious debate.
I think anyone who purchases this DVD edition of the film should definitely go back and listen to the director/actor/screenwriter commentary included with the film. In it, Marty and the screenwriter explain why they used the actors they did, and why they used today's vernacular. They had the characters speak this way so that the viewer is more aware that the players in the New Testament WERE human, just like us. Marty believed that the stilted English of the King James Court, with its "thou's" and "ye's" (and having absolutely NO relation to the way people spoke at the time) serves to distance modern viewers from the pain and doubt that both Jesus has his followers underwent.
Marty also was desperate to counter the prevalent depiction of Jesus in film that has him 100% "divine", with a golden light shining behind his head, with the divine little smile and the gentle words. He wanted to use the idea in the Bible that Jesus was also fully human, subject to both physical AND mental anguish. The latter is the point that Gibson missed in his film. Anyone who has ever lost a child or had to make an agonizing decision knows that mental anguish can be as painful as any physical torment. This movie is about the true temptation Jesus underwent, to deny God and run away from his destiny. All of us can identify with that.
I find this Jesus far more compelling than the Jesus I grew up with in Sunday school. This Jesus is not perfect. He hurts and has soubts and depressions like I do. And yet he gives his body and mind to God in the end.
on April 26, 2004
Do not expect a movie of Jesus with a storyline based on the christian occidental and oriental fundamentalistic treatments, or on the the so-called "according to the gospels" Zefirelli's film, or even more, something like the recent "approved by the Holly Curch" version of Father Gibson. Instead, should you expect more than that, a "free of tighs", a truly artistic and conceptual work. The Nikos Kazantzakis' book is well adapted by director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader, and tremendously rounded with a musical part which became a master piece from Peter Gabriel, who earned an Oscar for it. Locations, story and music, blended to the bones, become lirical and undisoluble. Most of the actors are 5 stars, but they didn't hesitate to participate on the film, even knowing that their actoral career could be at risk.
Then, is the story controversial? It is supposed to be, as it is based on a personal concept of a human Jesus trying to reach dinivity, not by definition, but by means of a truly spiritual transformation from the foundings, that can only be reached by the resign to all flesh temptations, even resign to salvation of his body when at the cross. Could have Jesus dare to resign to the divinity that reached by means of the crucifiction in the name of the human kind as the Son of God, and would have choose to embrace mortality because of his human weakness if any? This film is about such hypothesis.
The film was literally "crucified" on the "arenas" where it was exhibited at the end of the 80'. Its exhibitions caused violent acts in USA and France, the champions of liberty. In other countries, sadly as it was expected, exhibition was totally prohibited or potential viewers were thread with religious punishments. Even at the Cannes Festival, the film and Scorsese himself suffered discrimination and untolerance.
Controversy and free thinking shouldn't mean that. But didn't all that has happened before? Michelle de Servet, who had a honest philantropic concept of religion, an anti-ministry conception of both of the Churchs in the middle age, the catholic and the protestant, claiming them to get back to the man kind spiritual needs, and dare to interpret the gospels accordingly, just got himself to be prosecuted and finally killed.
Overule the temptation and watch over the film and find yourself how you qualified it: a blasphemous "never-thing-again-on-it" movie, or a honest and artistic personal respectable film.
on April 19, 2004
the recent gibson film; the passion of the christ' is a horrowing reminder that catholic fundamentalism can be as frightening as protestant fundamentalism. irionically, that film reminded me of the monstrous imagery i saw in the facistic chick tracts when i was a child.
christ in that film is reduced to the image of an animal. he is not human at all. and i think it no coincidence that the fundamentalist view of a god of wrath is often animal like.
it's no wonder that fundamnetalist protestants are booking whole theatres to see the fundamntalist catholic's view of the passion.
however, scorsese's film is neither. it is the honest, thought prevoking work of an artist searching for answers.
scorsese in this film, reminds me much of the painter, paul gauguin.
both are artists seeking truth and in so doing, responded with poignant, unforgettable works.
here, we are presented with the human christ seeking to understand his divinity.
even this crucifixion with a naked christ (and it is doubtful crucifixion victims were allowed the benefit of a diaper) and nailed through the wrists is possibly more accurate in it's depiction of human suffering. it certainly portrays human pathos far more than the gibson film.
when this film was released many protested it's portrayal of christ making love to magdalene. despite the fact that the scene is brief, takes place within the sacraments of marriage, and is merely a fantasy of christ's as he lies suffering on his tree.
why wouldnt the human christ have fanatasized about being married, having children, leading a normal life as opposed to dying a horrible death for all of humanity as he is dying?
too, we have here an honest searching from an artist rather than pre-set, pre-concieved notions on the protrayal of christ that fundamentalist thinking dictates.
an honest, rewarding masterpiece.
rise to the occasion and let it challenge you.
on March 21, 2004
I find all the hoopla surrounding Mel Gibson's new film "The Passion of the Christ" to be oddly deja vu. It seems like anytime some unlucky sod decides to make a film about Christ, people are going to complain and picket. In 1988 (was it that long ago?) director Martin Scorsese made an extraordinary film that was greeted with equal fervor - "The Last Temptation of Christ."
The film "The Last Temptation of Christ" is an incredible achievement, with earnest performances, thoughtful dialogue (based on the Nikos Kazantzakis novel of the same name) and the always-imaginative direction of Scorsese. I applauded how human and identifiable Jesus Christ was portrayed.
When watching "The Last Temptation of Christ," one has the feeling if this story truly did happen, then it would have happened much as it did in this film. It is violent, coarse and inspirational. The great controversy was its portrayal of Christ having an affair with prostitute Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey). But it's not really an affair more than it is Christ, at the moment of death, imagining life's choices. Just what if he had chosen a life of domestic simplicity and warm security with Mary, rather than take responsibility for his calling?
I think people are so used to Christ being portrayed as this superhuman being, eyes ocean blue and unblinking, gliding across the desert swan-like (like TV's "Jesus of Nazareth"). In one of the great film epics of all time "Ben-Hur," director William Wyler doesn't even show Jesus. Oh, we see his back at one point, his hand in yet another scene. But Jesus is left to our imagination, which is probably the best way to go about this subject matter anyway.
So for Jesus to be played by a relatively awkward looking man in Willem Dafoe, human, with genuine insecurities and fears, is an inspirational and unique stance. For the first time, Jesus was one of us rather than a primping GQ model with the sun behind his back.
on March 13, 2004
Maybe the fact that I wasn't offended by this film has something to do with me being an atheist Jew; I can certainly understand why it offended and was considered blasphemous by many others. Despite growing up as a Jew in Israel and having no connection to Christianity, I have long been fascinated by the story of Jesus and the many different cinematic and literary interpretations of it, be it humorous (Monty Python's 'Life Of Brian'), musical (Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Jesus Christ Superstar') or authentic. Martin Scorsese's 'Last Temptation Of Christ', based on Nikos Kazantaki's novel of the same name, takes a very original and unusual view on the life of Christ, and sheds a light on him that is both criticizing and sympathetic, presenting him to be a much more human-like character than we are used to expect. With much help from inspired and brilliant acting by Willem Defoe - certainly not anyone's first choice for the character, who approaches this very difficult character as originally as Scorsese does - the master director does extremely well in creating this unusual version of Christ, and makes him understandable and recognizable in a whole new way.
Originality and controversy aside, 'The Last Temptation Of Christ' is a wonderful masterpiece of cinema, and one of Scorsese's most impressive works, standing with greats like 'Taxi Driver' and 'Raging Bull' in suspense and atmosphere. His directing and the photography are superb, and he transfers the story of Jesus to the big screen like few others could. Also praiseworthy are many members of the cast - Barbara Hershey is spectacular as Mary Magdalene, as are Harry Dean Stanton as Paul and, in a surprisingly good casting choice, David Bowie (that's right!) as Pilate. Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot supplies a good match for Defoe's Christ, but he really is the weaker link in the bunch, as he is not nearly as original as the rest of the cast. Finally, I must mention the great genius Mr. Peter Gabriel, who supplied for this film one of the most brilliant and groundbreaking musical scores to appear in a motion picture, which adds enormously to its atmosphere. It can be obtained on audio CD under the title 'Passion: Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ', and remains a landmark of progressive and avant-garde music.
If you're open-minded and are not afraid of breaking of taboos, 'The Last Temptation Of Christ' is by all means an essentiality. Do try to take it for what it is and not to be offended, because the film is not intended as a documentation of the life of Christ or criticism against him; it is merely an interpretation of that timeless story, which tries - and succeeds - to shed new light on it. Watch it, and you'll never think of the Gospels in the same way again.
on February 24, 2004
While the film is not as authentic as the upcoming "The Passion of the Christ" (where Aramaic is used), it was much more realistic and gritty than previous film portrayals. What really adds to the drama of the film is the soundtrack by Peter Gabriel.
Having received 12 years of Catholic school education, culminating when this film was released, I was amused to read the incredible outpouring of emotions by narrow-minded Christians against this film, both at the time is was released and in the reviews. To me, a sure-fire sign of narrow-mindedness is their utter inability to appreciate art for what it is and the fact (evident from their reviews) that they have not even seen the movie. My faith was not so weak as to refuse to entertain artistic explorations and alternative viewpoints.
Although not wholly based on the scriptures, the theme of this film IS based more upon the very nature of Jesus Christ himself. That is, the film and the book both attempt to dramatically explore the contradictions associated with the dual identity of Jesus as both God and man - a schitzophrenic combination indeed.
In this film, Jesus as man resists God's call, at age 30, to take up his role as spiritual savior. Jesus-as-man IS tempted by his own thoughts and doubts (manifested by Satan), the last temptation occuring in a stupor as he hangs dying on the cross - the opportunity of becoming all man. This post-death illusion sequence, where Jesus goes on to marry Mary Magdeline and see the dire consequences of such a course of action, covers the last 3rd or so of the film. What is most interesting is the confrontation between Jesus and Paul, the latter of whom is the most signficant evangelical Christian of all time - which turns out to be an express of the argument that the idea of Jesus Christ as savior may have been more important (at least politically) that the historical facts. In any case, for those who find this sequence blasphemous, they need to remember that it is a DREAM. (e.g., The crowds are still cheering at the cross as he is taken down by a lovely little girl.) In the end, Jesus triumphs over the evil of human frailty to assume his position in Christian beliefs.
Other interesting factors include the expanded role of Judas (played here by Harvey Kietel), as Jesus' true right-hand man. In an interesting twist, Judas is at least as interested in political revolution as a spiritual one, and Jesus manipulates Judas' anger and convinces him to turn Jesus in for persecution.
In any case, I give it a firm thumbs up. Too bad that this is too expensive for any casual observer to pick it up on DVD, though.
on January 31, 2004
Having been among the group of "believers" protesting this movie sight-unseen back in the 70's, I must repent and say that this has become one of my all-time favorites. Though it is true the film is not for the faint of faith, it will add a new dimension to the spiritual understanding of the true believer. Yes, the story is not 100% biblically accurate - but it never claims to be. So often we tend to think only of the God-side of Christ but the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus was human and suffered ALL manner of temptations. Scorsese's Jesus is a conflicted human who walks a delicate balance between humanity and divinity. If you think about it, wouldn't someone who believed he was the son of the Almighty God yet lived as a human being constantly have to struggle to believe in his own divinity? Wouldn't such a soul wonder at times if he were truly God Incarnate or simply a lunatic with a serious Messiah complex? And wouldn't his arch-enemy Satan use every tactic and opportunity to convince him of the latter? This is what this story is about. Jesus was God trapped in a human body with human emotions and human needs. He had to live every second of his life believing he was who he said he was. We all love life and Jesus would have loved his, too. Even the Bible says he begged God to let this cup pass from him - because it was the only life he knew. And, although its not recorded in the Bible, if anyone believes that he wasn't tempted sexually then they deny Jesus' human nature. It seems a bit superior to think that we would be tempted in this manner and not Christ. This movie is a masterpiece that depicts the kind of Christ I can believe in - one who was tempted in every way possible and yet lived a life without sin in order to fulfill the law and redeem mankind to God. SEE THIS MOVIE, AND BELIEVE!