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The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

R | | Drama | 9 September 1988 (UK)
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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
4,792 ( 269)
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

Leo Marks: The voice of Satan was provided by the screenwriter of Peeping Tom (1960), a favorite inspiration for Martin Scorsese. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Israelite: [Mocking Jesus] See, this is what happens when a man swears off sex; the semen backs up into his brain!
See more »

Crazy Credits

"This film is not based upon the Gospels but on this fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dogville (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The Hope of Conquering Temptation
19 May 2008 | by DaveDigglerSee 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.


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