The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

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Movie Info

The story of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and its aftermath are the subject of this sometimes iconoclastic but always passionate religious drama. On its initial release, the film was the center of a notable controversy, thanks to protests from fundamentalists objecting to the film's unconventional depiction of Jesus.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Paul Schrader
In Theaters: wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Universal Pictures - Official Site

Cast

Barbara Hershey
as Mary Magdalene
David Bowie
as Pontius Pilate
Andre Gregory
as John the Baptist
Juliette Caton
as Girl Angel
Roberts Blossom
as Aged Master
Paul Herman
as Phillip
Leo Burmeister
as Nathaniel, Apostle
Leo Burmester
as Nathaniel
Tomas Arana
as Lazarus
Barry Miller
as Jeroboam
Paul Greco
as Zealot
Steven Shill
as Centurion
Randy Danson
as Sister of Lazarus
Robert Spafford
as Man at Wedding
Doris Von Thury
as Woman with Mary
Del Russell
as Money Changer
Donna Marie Dawson
as Person at Sermon
Russell Case
as Man at Sermon
Mary Seller
as Woman at Sermon
Ahmed Nacir
as Apostle
Donna Magnani
as Crowd Member
Penny Brown
as Crowd Member
Gabi Ford
as Crowd Member
Dale Wyatt
as Crowd Member
Domenico Fiore
as Crowd Member
Ted Rusoff
as Crowd Member
Leo Damian
as Crowd Member
Robert Laconi
as Crowd Member
Jonathon Zhivago
as Crowd Member
Illeana Douglas
as Crowd Member
David B. Sharp
as Crowd Member
Mary "Bunny" Sellers
as Person at Sermon
Mary Sellers
as Person at Sermon
Leo Marks
as Devil
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Critic Reviews for The Last Temptation of Christ

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (8)

In an age of post-Christian facetiousness, Martin Scorsese's work daringly attempts to restore passion and melodrama to the Gospel story.

Full Review… | March 19, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

A film of challenging ideas, and not salacious provocations.

Full Review… | March 19, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Concentrating on the humanity and fallibility of Jesus in continual conflict with his divinity, the film falters as a contemporary statement mainly in its primitive view of women.

Full Review… | March 19, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A sincere, typically ambitious and imaginative work from America's most provocatively intelligent film-maker.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

What emerges most memorably is its sense of absolute conviction, never more palpable than in the final fantasy sequence that removes Jesus from the cross and creates for him the life of an ordinary man.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

October 30, 2001
AV Club
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Last Temptation of Christ

With the Arab world murderously aflame over the depiction of their prophet in some cheesy internet vid I thought it a good time to revisit a work (far more legitimate!) that had Christians similarly upset. Scorcese's main crime here (apart from not putting his lips near any papal rings) appears to not kowtow to any previously tried formula. Men are men, women are women. Somehow though his Christ, full of doubt, fails to elicit real empathy ...

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams
½

A retelling of the Gospels focusing on Jesus' internal struggle between flesh and spirit, humanity and divinity, with a twist at the end. An excellent adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel of theological speculation. It's amazing (and frightening) to contemplate that some Christians protested this deeply pious movie when it came out.

Greg S
Greg S

I feel like that, before I write my opinion, that I should clarify something. From the day I was born till I moved from Memphis, I was raised in a Christian home. When I moved I went my own way and became agnostic. As such, I do have a background knowledge on Christianity and going into this film I knew that I would be watching something that is not only made by one of the masters of cinema, but also one of the most controversial films of all time. Plus totally fake as the disclaimer said at the start. I sat in complete silence during the entire two hours and forty four minutes of film and I was left stunned, speechless, and a lost of thought. I had no idea what the hell I saw. I don't know if this is a good film, a bad film, or what. 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.

Zach Brehany
Zach Brehany

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