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The Last Temptation of Christ
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132 out of 193 people found the following review useful:

This film is superb.

10/10
Author: xxxjb007xxx (xxxjb007xxx@yahoo.com) from Mid-west United States
9 February 2000

Most cinematic depictions of Christ show a perfect being, a one-dimensional person who is overly self confident and almost egotistical. I can never relate to those films, so they aren't believable. The Last Temptation of Christ is totally different. It was banned by intolerant Christians who didn't even see it because they have conflicting viewpoints, which is one hell of a paradox. I use to say that Christ was described as a demi-god in the Bible because He is half-man and half-god, but I was told that He is really all-man and all-god. If the latter thesis is correct, than he most have all the perfections of god as well as all the faults of man. In the movie, Jesus is not perfect. He sins, or at least, He confesses sins. He is haunted by visions and sounds almost to where He goes on the brink of insanity. He is tempted by Satan over and over again into thinking that he is just a man. When He cures a person of blindness, He does not smile, he frowns in pain because for every man he cures, he knows it brings him closer to the cross. The characterization in this movie is excellent. This script is Schrader's best, although it was rewritten. The music is the best I've ever heard in any films. Scorsese's direction was absolutely superb. Willem Dafoe and Harvey Keitel were excellent as well. And the movie leads you to the most haunting portayal of the crucifixion in cinematic history.

It is a must for any person to see, especially if you were outraged by the fact that Jesus is displayed as imperfect. You cannot do the film justice if you don't watch the whole film. You may be offended throughout the entire film, but it all comes together in the end and all is well. Seriously, I give the film five stars.

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109 out of 156 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful, moving film.

10/10
Author: flahertyd from New York, NY
16 March 2005

This is a beautiful film. It is one of the most powerful and ultimately one of the greatest films ever made, without a doubt. The performances, especially by Willem Dafoe as Jesus, are amazing; the sets and costumes are realistic and never feel forced, glossy, or stylized (and were based on extensive archaeological and philological research); Peter Gabriel's score is absolutely unbelievable...I cannot possibly praise this film enough, as well as Mr. Scorcese's courage in making such a bold and beautiful work of art in the face of considerable opposition.

It is really best to avoid religious and theological arguments about this film - it is simply a portrait of Christ coming to terms with who he is and what he must do. If it occasionally portrays Jesus in a manner that is somewhat at odds with that of scripture, try to keep in mind that it is merely another take on a story that has no absolute and authoritative telling. That Jesus has difficulty coming to terms with the role he must play is something that scripture does not rule out.

Consider it this way: this is the sort of film that has the power to convince the irreligious or non-Christians out there (of which I am one) of the importance, beauty, depth, and truth of Jesus' vision of a world filled with love and compassion. Give this movie a chance. You will not be disappointed.

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80 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

Offensive - no. Fantastic film-making - yes!

9/10
Author: Jonathon Dabell (barnaby.rudge@hotmail.co.uk) from Todmorden, England
14 April 2005

Has there ever been a more misunderstood film than Martin Scorcese's The Last Temptation Of Christ? Released amid great controversy and accused of being an offensive and unholy film, the truth of the matter is that it is a deeply reverent work which has the courage to ask challenging questions about the pressures and doubts Jesus must have experienced as the appointed Messiah. It also shows the violence of the times in graphic detail. If viewers consider it blasphemous to explore on film the immense burden of duty that Jesus bore through his life, then they are narrow-minded and ignorant. If people feel that to show the brutality and harshness of life in Roman times is tasteless and inappropriate, then they are guilty of glorifying difficult but factual truths. There is NOTHING offensive about this film. There is, however, much that is challenging.

Jesus (Willem Dafoe), an honest carpenter, saves Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) from a stoning. Already dimly aware that he is destined to lead an extraordinary life, he soon finds himself being drawn into the role of a religious figurehead. But Jesus finds it hard to accept that he is a Messiah, and as his reputation and following grows he constantly questions if he is a strong enough man to handle the burden of being God's son. After isolating himself in the desert, where he experiences several hallucinations in which he is confronted by visual manifestations of good and evil, Jesus finally concludes that he IS the true son of God and whole-heartedly sets about imparting his love and wisdom to all who'll listen. Later betrayed to the disgruntled Romans by his friend Judas Iscariot (Harvey Keitel), Jesus is crucified. While on the cross, he imagines what his life would have turned out like if he had shied away from his duty as the Messiah and lived life like a mere mortal.

It is this final section of the film that has provoked the most vociferous outrage. The sequence shows Jesus as he slowly dies on the cross, dreaming of an alternative life in which he sins and copulates and hates like all normal people. Many people have criticised the film on the grounds that these scenes are blasphemous. Such claims are nonsense - the film is not saying that Jesus was a sinner, nor that he gave in to temptation of the flesh, nor still that he was a man filled with hate. The film is merely saying that, in such great pain and so close to death while still just a young man, he might - just maybe - have wondered if it was all worth it. At the end of the film, we see Jesus accept his role knowing that his death is the ultimate act of unselfish love, so the film actually is totally in agreement with what all Christians believe. If the film had come to the conclusion that Jesus's whole life was a waste, his death too, then maybe the detractors would've had cause to complain. But how can they possibly be offended by the film as it stands? For goodness sake, it's a film about absolute faith!!! In truth, The Last Temptation Of Christ is an excellent movie. Compellingly acted, beautifully shot on Moroccan locations, and full of telling ideas, it is a work of real depth and power. The accents are sometimes distracting and some of the dialogue occasionally betrays ill-suited modernisms, but apart from these minor drawbacks it is one of the most important and thought-provoking films ever made.

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93 out of 134 people found the following review useful:

have an open mind and watch it

9/10
Author: Fever from St. Louis
13 August 1998

I thought this movie was an excellent piece of film making. A fabulous score and stunning cinematography take us through the inner struggle of Jesus in accepting his role and his duty. It tells how he faced temptation, ridicule , torture and triumph. Before you burn my name in effigy for liking this movie, be open minded and just experience a good film. The "disclaimer" at the beginning of the movie says it all. It is not necessarily based on events in the Bible. Just as Jesus used parables as a way of teaching, this movie tells a story of a man's life and events that we can all somehow personally relate to. By the way, the portrayal of Satan was the best I've seen yet.

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76 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

The Most Loving Portrayal of Jesus I Could Imagine

10/10
Author: Rich Dunbeck from United States
22 July 2005

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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89 out of 133 people found the following review useful:

"It is Accomplished!"

Author: mr_doright11 from Gresham, OR
24 February 2002

This is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen! I was amazed with all of the performances. This is certainly one of Martin Scorsese's great accomplishments in his extensive and highly acclaimed carrier. This movie was very important to Scorsese and he would put it off several times because he felt he wasn't ready to do it. I think that the wait was worth it, because this was an outstanding movie.

This is one of those movies that you either really liked, or really didn't like. Most of the people who didn't like this found it to be a mockery of the Gospels and Christ himself. I liked it because it did follow the Bible very closely, it was a fantastic telling of Jesus Christ's last days and his greatest accomplishments, and because the acting was very good.

I thought Willem Defoe was spell binding as Jesus Christ. Some people will say that he wasn't enough like Jesus, but you do have to realize that this is probably the hardest character to play and I think that Defoe did the best job that anyone could have done at playing Christ. Harvey Keitel did an equally excellent job at playing Judas, Jesus's best friend, who eventually betrays Him so the world can be saved. This may be Keitel's best performance (if not, it is one of the three). Barbara Hershey was also a great supporting roll as Mary Magdalene.

This movie is certainly not for everyone. Many people with very strong religious convictions will see this movie as offensive, simply because Christ is portrayed a frightened man who sees his fate as a burdon through 'half' of the film, and I implicate the word 'half' for a reason. For everyone else, I say go rent this, because this is a powerful and magnificent version of the final months of Christ. When you watch this, you just might have to wonder (I know I did), what will be the last temptation of Christ? 10/10

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50 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

A Deeply Religious Movie

9/10
Author: Pete-17
25 September 1998

Despite what its critics say (most of whom haven't even seen the movie), "The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of the most deeply religious movies I have ever seen. What makes it so powerful is that it does not portray Jesus as an all-righteous, preachy figure; it portrays Him as a man. He was the son of God, but more importantly He was human. He could hurt, love, feel pain and joy, and He could make mistakes just like any of us. He had to overcome temptation. Martin Scorsese, for whom this was a long labor of love, directs a beautiful movie with all around excellent performances, particularly Harvey Keitel as Judas and Willem Defoe as Jesus. The "Last Temptation" segment which draws most of the movie's criticism, is the most important part of all because it shows how close God truly is to us, if only those critics would watch the movie before judging it, they might realize that.

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57 out of 88 people found the following review useful:

Jesus loses his virginity to a prostitute in Scorsese's masterpiece

10/10
Author: canadude
31 March 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This retelling of Christ's life features Jesus begging Judas to betray him (only to be called a traitor in return), Jesus building crosses for the Romans to crucify fellow Jews, and British actors and voices *all* playing evil characters. Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ is, despite and because of these things, a brilliant film, one that approaches closest to Christianity's core obsessions and problems. It also serves as a perfect palette cleanser for those who had the distinct misfortune of watching Mel Gibson's processing of Jesus Christ through the Hollywood meat-grinder for (deeply disturbing personal reasons and) money.

But Gibson's dementia aside. Martin Scorsese's film is profoundly quiet and thought-provoking. Is it blasphemous? Or rather, is the controversy it stirred justified? I'd say so. Paul Shrader, the writer of the film, himself admits that on a certain level the film is blasphemy. But not literally. It uses God as a conceit for man's condition and struggle to understand God. And this desire to comprehend which pervades the film renders its blasphemy a noble one. Or forgivable one. The film, after all, explores the relationship between the human and finite with the divine and infinite with a passion present in all aspects of it. The Last Temptation is about the struggle of those two, particularly in the face of destiny and death. In that sense, it is a very existential film. Dafoe's Jesus at first doubts he is even God's son. He doesn't know - he searches. He reaches false conclusions and true ones. The beauty of his struggle lies precisely in not always knowing the answers. He is, after all, human.

And then again, he is not. However, on its own, this statement means very little. The film probes the relationship of the Jesus of Nazareth who sins like the rest of us, with Christ, the son of God who is sacrificed for our sins. It explores the nature and meaning of that sacrifice. The segment that I would imagine caused the greatest amount of controversy, namely (not surprisingly) Christ's last temptation, provides the bridge between Christ and pre-Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. It asks us to imagine Jesus being saved from death. And through this theoretical contemplation we see the necessity of the sacrifice, its binding nature. Judas, in fact, summarizes this perfectly by saying: "The life of a man is not for you. Your place is on the cross" (I am paraphrasing, but the point is there). Jesus' struggle, throughout the film, ends exactly at this point, at this realization which allows him to say on the cross "It is accomplished." The fact that this struggle is made real and accessible to us is what makes this a phenomenal film.

The film's brilliance shines on pretty much all levels. Scorsese's direction is atmospheric, extremely compassionate and restrained (as opposed to the orgiastic explosion of [unnecessary?] violence in Gibson's film). The performances are great. Hershey's Mary Magdalene is amazing. Dafoe's Jesus and even more so Keitel's Judas are brilliant. In fact, Judas in this film is almost as much a central character as Jesus. In The Last Temptation Judas isn't the evil traitor who gets himself killed over a maggot-ridden corpse like in Gibson's tale, but a character so full of love he *agrees* to betray Christ. The act of betrayal here is one of coming to terms with fate very much on the same level as Jesus' acceptance of his self-sacrifice. Judas must betray Christ even though he has grown to love him.

There are many reasons to see this film. It is a deeply spiritual examination of Christ the man and Christ the Son of God and the transition from one to the other. In some way, it is a perfect portrait of a man's search for answers and for God - it is spiritual existentialism, uncannily similar to Kierkegaard. It is the exact opposite of The Passion of the Christ and it should be celebrated.

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37 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

The Hope of Conquering Temptation

8/10
Author: DaveDiggler from United States
19 May 2008

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.

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36 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

an alternative reality for Christ

7/10
Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
13 March 2005

This adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel, directed by Martin Scorsese, caused quite a stir on its initial release, accused of blasphemy and of causing offence to the Christian religion.

However, in its depiction of Jesus Christ as a human being rather than a man divine, it gets to the core of his story. This is a man who makes the choice of self-sacrifice for the good of his fellow men, despite the temptations of an alternative life - shown in this film by a life with Mary Magdelene rather than dying at the Crucifixion.

Played by Willem Dafoe with great sensitivity, this Christ performs miracles and discusses the intricacies of life and death with his disciples. Harvey Keitel is Judas, a rough man who fails to understand the significance of being the chosen Son of God; while Barbara Hershey is an effective Magdelene. David Bowie makes a short appearance as Pontius Pilate and is surprisingly good.

'The Last Temptation of Christ' is not one of Scorsese's best films but it certainly sparks questions and leaves food for thought. Some of the imagery is superb and the script is coherent and of a high standard.

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