First off: I want to mention that I, myself am not a believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ. I am an atheist. I do not look at religious films any differently than I look at other works of fiction. The story of Jesus has always been interesting to me. He is no doubt one of the most fascinating characters in the history of fiction. And this 1988 film portraying Jesus the man, is one of the best religious films of all time. It tells a side of him that the Christian-right doesn't like to talk about, the human side. We see from the very beginning that this is a different type of Jesus flick. We see Jesus as a carpenter who makes crosses for crucifixions. He looks at one of the crosses he has just made, stretches his arms out on the cross, and gasps. He's imaging what it must feel like to be on that cross, because, dreadfully, he knows that one day it will be him on a cross. And deep down he doesn't want it.
He doesn't really want to be the "son of god". He doesn't want to die for everyone's sins. On the inside, he just wants to be a regular person, but he knows he can't be. If he does choose to be a regular person, then it means that humanity is doomed. There are many scenes early in this movie, where people are threating his life, and at times, it seems as if that's what he really wants. It'd better than the cross.
The film also has a very different portrayal of Judas. He is not seen as the evil character that the other Jesus movies portray him to be. In a very controversial scene, Judas is being asked by Jesus to go through with the betrayal that will eventually lead to him being arrested, and crucified. I, myself, have never really understood Judas being one of the first people that people think of when they talk about evil characters. He had to do what he did.
This 1988 film by the great director Martin Scorsese had a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding it when it first hit theaters. It was condemned by Christian leaders all over this country. Many theaters refused to show it. And when it was released on VHS many rental stores refused to sell it. It was even banned in some countries. One of the main reasons this film was so taboo is probably because of its final sequence. When Jesus is on the cross, Satan, disguised as a beautiful, little-girl-angel, tricks Jesus into believing that god has sent her/him to free him (Jesus) of his suffering. And that this whole thing was just some sort of test. And he passed, so now he can get off the cross and live his life as a normal man. He can even get married and have children with Mary Magdalene. He accepts. And it isn't much later that we see Jesus and Mary having sex. Hearing this: sparked outrage in Christians everywhere. Most of whom, probably didn't even see the film. Because, apparently, in the eyes of some Christians, being human is wrong.
"The Last Temptation of Christ" by Martin Scorsese, is a great movie! It's great, because it is rare to see a film about the life of a Christ (One of the most fascinating characters ever) that doesn't portray him as being perfect. This is the only Jesus film that I know of, where you can actually relate to him. Like many other humans, Jesus struggles with who he is and what he must do. He fights with himself, he fights with God. And I think that's something that most people can relate to. I am an atheist, but Jesus, this movie is great!