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The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

R  |   |  Drama  |  22 September 1988 (Netherlands)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 37,744 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 302 user | 111 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

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)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Greco ...
Centurian (as Steven Shill)
Michael Been ...
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:

22 September 1988 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

Passion  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)


$8,373,585 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Due to several threats from religious groups, director Martin Scorsese had to be accompanied by bodyguards during public appearances for some time after the movie's release. See more »


Camera shadow is cast over Jesus and other characters just before he is baptized by John The Baptist. See more »


The Lion: I feel sorry for you. You were lonely. You cried, so I came.
Jesus: [wary] I didn't call for you. Who are you?
The Lion: Your spirit.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the end credits, Peter Gabriel, composer for the film, credits all the people that used instruments for the music. See more »


Featured in The Universal Story (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Hope of Conquering Temptation
19 May 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Martin Scorsese directs one of his finest achievements in a career of directing finest achievements. He takes on a subject close to his heart and close to his faith. Nikos Kazantzakis wrote an extraordinary piece of work on the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The last temptation takes place while Jesus is on the cross, but before that we watch Jesus (William Dafoe) try to overcome temptation as an everyday man. That's what Kazantzakis focuses on. While Christ is on the cross the pain and sacrifice wouldn't be the same if he didn't feel it and showing Jesus in the form of an everyday man may offend some devout Christians, but if they're offended then they're missing the point. God sent his son down to this earth to die for mans sins. That's what scriptures tell us, but Kazantzakis takes us down an intriguing road as the son of God battles the temptations of the everyday man, yet without sin. We watch Jesus struggle with acceptance that he is the messiah, but eventually he accepts his role. We watch Jesus tempted by evil, but he resists. When some hit's him, he turns the other cheek. He has love and he has love for everyone and everything. He doesn't have hate, he doesn't have sin, Jesus is a perfect creature in a man's body sent to do God's work. Martin Scorsese depicts him no differently than he's imagined or believed to have been.

The final act is the greatest part of the film (maybe the most controversial). It shows Jesus taken down, off the cross, by his guardian angel- something that didn't happen according scriptures. As you watch this and if you know the story and haven't read the novel, you become baffled. You don't know what to think or how to interpret it. We see Jesus doing things he never did, like having sex, having children, and living out the rest of his life as an everyday man; living a good, humble life, old and tired. Only until the final moment and the final shot of the film, does the entire third act make complete sense, which makes the final statement by Jesus all that more powerful; "It is accomplished!" It isn't done in a negative manner. Kazantzakis and Scorsese aren't showing Jesus full of sin for no good reason. Showing the hallucination and showing Satan tempting Christ in his weakest moment is what makes Jesus' sacrifice even more powerful. Not only did he die for the sin of man, but he died for the sin of man while being tempted to live a normal and happy life as a man by Satan in the form of a beautiful guardian angel. There would be no torture; no death; no pain; no sacrifice, but here, Jesus fights his temptations and accepts his role and the path God sent him on. He dies on the cross in agony with temptation from Satan at his weakest moment. He's triumphant in a way that is hard to see triumph, but not only does he accept the sins of man, and not only does he sacrifice his life, but he defeats Satan and conquers temptation... as a man. Jesus is a powerful figure without sin and neither Scorsese nor Kazantzakis show him as anything less than the Lord and Savior. The film should leave you questioning your ability to resist temptation as Jesus did. As a devout Christian, one would think, you'd be more appreciative of the depiction in this film than any other film ever made on this subject. "The Last Temptation of Christ" is a powerful film done without sensation, without hate, but with taste, respect, love and appreciation for his sacrifices and his ability to resist temptation and go on with the plan when, as a man, Jesus could have taken the easy way out. He didn't. He sacrificed his life and went through the pain and suffering as a man. Not as a God, where he knows there is no pain and he'll born again in three days, but as a man that can feel all the things we feel and resist all things we don't resist.

Personally I have serious doubts about every word that I've come across, or every biblical story I've ever heard. I am not a Christian. I'm not atheist. I'm nothing more than a skeptic, but this film did something that I would never think possible; I had a religious experience and almost, for a second, became a believer. This is one of the most profound and powerful films ever made even though it has some serious flaws. You don't have to believe in God or Christianity to enjoy this film, simply an opened mind.

32 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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