The Last Temptation of Christ Reviews
AS a film, this film is both disturbing and yet beautiful to watch. Mainly this has to deal with how Scorsese deals with the subject matter at hand. Anyone could have turned this film into another Passion Play, but Scorsese shows his true power as a film maker by having us see a version of Jesus that is both much wanted by cinema lovers and disturbing: A human Jesus.
In the Bible, we are taught that Jesus is the son of God and as such is the only true perfect human. This film, however, presents us with a Jesus that has flaws, gives into temptation, and treats him being the son of God as a burden, not as a gift. When I hear of Jesus, and think of the truth of man, THIS is what I saw. But while I adore this presentation of Jesus, I was also disturbed by what I saw. I am use to seeing Jesus as the way we are taught. Then I see this Jesus that questions his purposes, nearly gives into Satan's temptation, and completely life like. Scorsese is a well known Catholic and this film shows his love for the faith as he presents this version of Jesus.
As a film, this film also shocked me with how disturbing the music is. I am a big fan of experimental orchestrations that are known for disturbing it's audience (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross). With this film, the score is... shocking. Scorsese is known for pairing music and image together in a beautiful way, and it is with this film that he has perfected it. Not only does the music compliment what is being shown, but it also enhances it. The score is what kept me wanting to see this film end out and without it, the magic of this movie would be lost.
Harvey Keitel is one of those actors I adore. I liked him in Reservoir Dogs, adored him in Bad Lieutenant, and I love him in this film as Judas. The main reason why is because he portrays Judas as someone that is equally important to Jesus. In history, Judas is the man who betrayed Jesus for money and would later kill himself and burn forever in Hell. Here he is shown as someone that originally wanted to kill Jesus, but then followed him while betraying Jesus at Jesus's request. With this view point, Judas has been the subject to numerous criticism only because he was obeying orders. I know this film is fictitious, but it is a thought that I always wondered.
Willem Dafoe. My God. He steals this movie as he portrays the best image of Jesus I have ever seen. Like with how Scorsese shoots this film, Dafoe makes Jesus someone who is flawed, questioning, with a hint of madness to kick in. This is how I imagined Jesus, and Dafoe does a damned good job. Normally I would lecture on about how great Dafoe was, but his performance is one that only seeing can make you love how this works.
Like with my reaction to this film when I first saw it, I have no idea of how to feel about this film. I know I praise it, but that is through how good the film is. On a personal level, this is not a film or a movie and whoever tells you it is is completely lying. The Last Temptation of Christ is an experience that is unlike any other experience I have sat through. No matter about your religious background, you will be effected by this film. In the end, I am still agnostic but my ideas of religion are changed.
Not for the week minded.
Jesus (Willem Dafoe), an honest carpenter, saves Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) from a stoning. Already dimly aware that he is destined to lead an extraordinary life, he soon finds himself being drawn into the role of a religious figurehead. But Jesus finds it hard to accept that he is a Messiah, and as his reputation and following grows he constantly questions if he is a strong enough man to handle the burden of being God's son. After isolating himself in the desert, where he experiences several hallucinations in which he is confronted by visual manifestations of good and evil, Jesus finally concludes that he IS the true son of God and whole-heartedly sets about imparting his love and wisdom to all who'll listen. Later betrayed to the disgruntled Romans by his friend Judas Iscariot (Harvey Keitel), Jesus is crucified. While on the cross, he imagines what his life would have turned out like if he had shied away from his duty as the Messiah and lived life like a mere mortal.
It is this final section of the film that has provoked the most vociferous outrage. The sequence shows Jesus as he slowly dies on the cross, dreaming of an alternative life in which he sins and copulates and hates like all normal people. Many people have criticised the film on the grounds that these scenes are blasphemous. Such claims are nonsense - the film is not saying that Jesus was a sinner, nor that he gave in to temptation of the flesh, nor still that he was a man filled with hate. The film is merely saying that, in such great pain and so close to death while still just a young man, he might - just maybe - have wondered if it was all worth it. At the end of the film, we see Jesus accept his role knowing that his death is the ultimate act of unselfish love, so the film actually is totally in agreement with what all Christians believe. If the film had come to the conclusion that Jesus's whole life was a waste, his death too, then maybe the detractors would've had cause to complain. But how can they possibly be offended by the film as it stands? For goodness sake, it's a film about absolute faith!!! In truth, The Last Temptation Of Christ is an excellent movie. Compellingly acted, beautifully shot on Moroccan locations, and full of telling ideas, it is a work of real depth and power. The accents are sometimes distracting and some of the dialogue occasionally betrays ill-suited modernisms, but apart from these minor drawbacks it is one of the most important and thought-provoking films ever made.
Willem Dafoe tends to overact in some sequences, but ultimately his performance is great. Harry Dean Stanton makes his mark as Saul/Paul, if only for a few minutes. Harvey Keitel was absolutely terrible.
Hands down the best portrayal of Jesus ever committed to screen. Defoe's performance is magnificent as is the rest of the cast(although Keitel is a bit rubbish).
A great "What if...?"
The settings and characters were believable, until the last third, where the story went tangential from what we knew. The movie then catapulted us to unknown territory. The message at the end is a triumph for Christians. The last frames were creepy. Satan was frightening in this movie.
Willem Dafoe was google-eyed and vulnerable in the role of Christ. It was too cool seeing David Bowie as Pilate. Mary could've been sexier if she didn't have tattoos all over her body. The disciples were well-cast. Judas was funny and insightful. I really got into this movie in its time; people tried to stop us from seeing it in the lineup.