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
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The Most Loving Portrayal of Jesus I Could Imagine
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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