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The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

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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.

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Writers:

Nikos Kazantzakis (novel), Paul Schrader (screenplay)
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Popularity
4,618 ( 326)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Willem Dafoe ... Jesus
Harvey Keitel ... Judas
Paul Greco ... Zealot
Steve Shill ... Centurian (as Steven Shill)
Verna Bloom ... Mary, Mother of Jesus
Barbara Hershey ... Mary Magdalene
Roberts Blossom ... Aged Master
Barry Miller ... Jeroboam
Gary Basaraba ... Andrew, Apostle
Irvin Kershner ... Zebedee
Victor Argo ... Peter, Apostle
Michael Been Michael Been ... John, Apostle
Paul Herman ... Phillip, Apostle
John Lurie ... James, Apostle
Leo Burmester ... Nathaniel, Apostle
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 September 1988 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Passion See more »

Filming Locations:

Ait Benhaddou, Morocco See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$401,211, 14 August 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,630,564
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is Martin Scorsese's only R-rated film without swearing until Silence (2016). See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Judas: I struggle, you collaborate.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Terminal City: Episode #1.2 (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Offensive - no. Fantastic film-making - yes!
14 April 2005 | by barnabyrudgeSee all my reviews

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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