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The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

R | | Drama | 9 September 1988 (UK)
1:18 | Trailer

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The life of Jesus Christ, his journey through life as he faces the struggles all humans do, and his final temptation on the cross.



(novel), (screenplay)
2,584 ( 397)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Centurian (as Steven Shill)
Aged Master
Andrew, Apostle
Michael Been ...
Phillip, Apostle
James, Apostle
Nathaniel, Apostle


The carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth, tormented by the temptations of demons, the guilt of making crosses for the Romans, pity for men and the world, and the constant call of God, sets out to find what God wills for Him. But as His mission nears fulfillment, He must face the greatest temptation; the normal life of a good man. Based, not on the Gospels, but on Nikos Kazantzakis' novel of the same name. Written by Nick Lopez <ntlopez@fas.harvard.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

9 September 1988 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Passion  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$401,211, 14 August 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the four hundred movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »


The film opens with a printed text, translated from the writings of Nikos Kazantzakis. It contains the line "My principle anguish and source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh." The word "principle" is used incorrectly, the correct context is "principal." This mistake has not been corrected in any home video release despite being widely noted ever since the movie first came out. See more »


Jesus: [cried out on the cross] Father, why have you forsaken me?
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Crazy Credits

Just before the credits, there is a flash of colors which leads to the credits "paged up" behind a yellow background. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Most Loving Portrayal of Jesus I Could Imagine
22 July 2005 | by See all my reviews

Condemned by Fundamentalists upon release, delayed by outcries from hypocrites and liars, and boycotted in any city where it played "The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of the most controversial movies ever made. Instead of showing Christ as a fearless and perfect person, "The Last Temptation" depicts Him as a person who fought his destiny and wished to be just another mortal human being. Religious groups who couldn't (and still can't) accept the fact that Jesus was human were shocked by such ideas and refused to see the film or read the landmark novel on which it was based. They'll never know that they attacked one of the most honest and loving depictions of Christ.

The Christ we see in the film is not based on the teachings of the Gospels, or any scripture for that matter. Instead we get a portrait of Christ the man, not Christ the Savior. We get to see his faults, his fears and anxieties. Then, we get to see him overcome those and find the strength to fulfill his destiny. The Last Temptation of Christ is not afraid to say that Jesus was weak before he became the Savior, and that makes the film all the more satisfying. This is a tale of redemption, courage, and love like no other.

There is no reason to miss this film. Not everyone will like it, but at the very least it will let you see another perspective of the story. And even if you can't accept the story, you won't be able to deny the greatness of Scorsese's direction. From the epic crowd scenes, to the intimate one-on-one conversations, to the stunning final shot (which was actually caused by an overexposed section of film, but is beautiful nonetheless), you will be awed by Scorsese's work here.

Also stunning is the work of the two leads. Willem Dafoe inhabits the role of Christ perfectly, bringing perfectly controlled emotion to each and every scene. Harvey Keitel as Judas has been the subject of debate because of his NYC accent. That was on purpose (Scorsese used accents to denote the descent of characters. American accent = Israelite; British accent = Roman), but it doesn't even matter. Keitel is brilliant no matter what his accent is.

Honest, human, loving, and unafraid, "The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of the great cinematic achievements of all time. Martin Scorsese crafted with this film his most personal masterpiece, and perhaps his greatest masterpiece ever.

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