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THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 13/10/2011 12:53:44 PM   
Nexus Wookie


Posts: 2326
Joined: 24/9/2011
From: the Godcity

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (dir. MARTIN SCORSESE, rel.1988)

Scorsese's underrated masterpiece?

To me, Martin Scorsese is a god amongst film directors.

Countless generations have been thrilled by the cinema of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and mesmerised by the operatic story telling of Francis Ford Coppola. But amongst the 'golden generation' that emerged in the 70's, consisting of all above mentioned auteurs, and also including Brian De Palma, Scorsese and Spielberg stand out as the most consistent, which is no surprise as both are my most favourite directors working in film today.

When The Last Temptation of Christ came out, Scorsese was crucified by nearly all denomination of the Christian faith. They saw it as an attack on Christ. But that is where they fail to see the bigger picture. Scorsese himself is a Catholic, and would in no way go out intentionally to court controversy.
Indeed, before any action is registered on screen, it is clearly stated that the film is a work of fiction. The author of the original novel stated this; it is nothing more than a story and NOT a commentary on the life of Christ.

But the damage was done. Which is a shame as this film is one of my favourite Scorsese films, in fact one of my favourite films, period. The story revolves around a fictional Christ played by the excellent Willem Defoe, and his battle to resist the tempation of the devil. There are excellent supporting acts from Harvey Keitel as a sympathetic and misunderstood Judas, and (a favourite character actor of mine) Harry Dean Stanton as the zealous Paul/Saul. All the aforementioned are simply superb in their roles, as well as Barbara hershey as Mary Magdeline.

The story is about man's everlasting battle with the sins of the flesh and the movie is an excellent allegory of that. Our fictional Christ has to resist the temptation of the devil, his LAST temptation, hence the title. Defoe's character is always doubting himself and questioning his own existence and his duty in life. He is scared and at the same time tempted by the lure of worldly comfort, such as married life, family etc.

My favourite part of the film is the last 20 minutes or so, when we see Defoe's Christ give into tempation as he hangs on the cross. A seemingly angelic girl appears and says god has forgiven him, and he is now free. He takes her hand and is led to a life he craves; he marries, has children and grows old. On his deathbed he is visited by Judas and is duly reminded of his role, that he is the chosen one. 'That 'angel' is satan' bellows Judas, infuriated. And then our fictional Christ realises his folly, and seeks god's forgiveness, then lo and behold - he wakes up and realises he was on the cross all along! His 'life' was nothing more than a dream! Satan has failed, and our fictional Christ (everyman) has triumphed over temptation!

This 'dream' section is what caused the outrage amongst Christians. But this is without doubt the most beautifully constructed, acted, photographed and realised chapter in the film, and is my favourite! You can see why uber nerd Kevin Smith rates this film in his top 5 films of all time! And while it isnt in my top 5 movie list, it is nonetheless one of my personally favourite Scorsese films!

I must also comment on the music of the film (by Peter Gabriel); it is very 'arabesque' in tone, with drum beats and flute. It is one of my favourite movie sound tracks alongside Vangelis (Blade Runner), Mascagni (Raging Bull) and The Mission (Morricone). It is brilliant and has to be heard to be believed.

I urge all Scorsese fan's and even 'non-fan's alike to give this fantastic movie a chance and witness the master storyteller at his blistering best!

All in all, The Last Tempation of Christ is Scorsese's underrated masterpiece!

I would love to hear what you guys have to say. Do you agree? Disagree? Have your say!





< Message edited by Nexus Wookie -- 14/6/2012 10:43:01 AM >


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RE: THR LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 13/10/2011 1:00:49 PM   
Rgirvan44


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Joined: 10/3/2006
From: Punishment Park
I am not religious, but this film is the cloest I have ever felt to feeling religious. A masterpiece and sorely misunderstood by some quaters. 

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RE: THR LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 13/10/2011 3:02:28 PM   
Nexus Wookie


Posts: 2326
Joined: 24/9/2011
From: the Godcity

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rgirvan44

I am not religious, but this film is the cloest I have ever felt to feeling religious. A masterpiece and sorely misunderstood by some quaters.


I agree, it is a misunderstood film. Which is a shame because everyone needs to see this film not as a religious picture, but as an allegory of mans struggle.

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RE: THR LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 11/4/2012 1:14:11 AM   
jobloffski

 

Posts: 1894
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: elsewhere
It is indeed a misunderstood film.

I'm an atheist, but that aside, in this film I don't see Jesus having sex, I see Jesus being tempted by the possibility of a life in which he could have sex, love, a family and be free of the suffering he was inevitably going to have to suffer, yet opting not to give into temptation and accepting the suffering his actions and the needs of his destiny brought upon him.

In other words, I saw Jesus being tempted and transcending temptation. Whereas people protesting about the film often didn't seem to have any truck with the idea that if their Jesus couldn't actually feel tempted by temptation and able to imagine giving in to temptation, there'd be no value whatsoever in him resisting temptation (and therefore no truck with the idea that a film that effectively showed Jesus THINKING about what it would be like to live a normal life but not deviating from his path to make his own suffering end is actually not blasphemy, but actually a celebration of exactly why their Jesus is a worthy example to them, in terms of being a role model, and spiritual inspiration).

It's almost as if they either didn't see, or didn't understand, the film...

But what the fuck would an atheist know?



< Message edited by jobloffski -- 11/4/2012 1:19:52 AM >


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Yes, dreamers dream and doers do. But if dreamers DON'T dream, doers don't have anything TO do. Everything that is only here because people exist, only exists because someone thought of it., or in other words, dreamed it.

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RE: THR LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 11/4/2012 9:08:29 AM   
Nexus Wookie


Posts: 2326
Joined: 24/9/2011
From: the Godcity

quote:

ORIGINAL: jobloffski

It is indeed a misunderstood film.

I'm an atheist, but that aside, in this film I don't see Jesus having sex, I see Jesus being tempted by the possibility of a life in which he could have sex, love, a family and be free of the suffering he was inevitably going to have to suffer, yet opting not to give into temptation and accepting the suffering his actions and the needs of his destiny brought upon him.

In other words, I saw Jesus being tempted and transcending temptation. Whereas people protesting about the film often didn't seem to have any truck with the idea that if their Jesus couldn't actually feel tempted by temptation and able to imagine giving in to temptation, there'd be no value whatsoever in him resisting temptation (and therefore no truck with the idea that a film that effectively showed Jesus THINKING about what it would be like to live a normal life but not deviating from his path to make his own suffering end is actually not blasphemy, but actually a celebration of exactly why their Jesus is a worthy example to them, in terms of being a role model, and spiritual inspiration).

It's almost as if they either didn't see, or didn't understand, the film...

But what the fuck would an atheist know?




Agreed! I myself am not a Christian and yet regard this picture as one of my favourites (i even enjoyed a few bits here and there from Mel Gibson's Passion, namely Satan's moments, I think he/she stole the film!)

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RE: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 11/4/2012 9:47:44 AM   
Spaldron


Posts: 10485
Joined: 6/10/2006
From: Chair
Amazing film, easily on of Scorsese's best films of the 80's and Willem Dafoe's best role. Saw it once as a kid and didn't really understand the message then saw it again about 5 or 6 years ago and completely got it. Like Girv said as a non-Christian this is probably the only film that has ever brought me close to understanding the 'true' meaning of the Christian faith, as opposed to the "Vatican approved" versions we've seen over the years (like The Greatest Story Ever Told snorefest). The only issue I really have with the film is the American accents which take a while to get used to.

< Message edited by Spaldron -- 11/4/2012 10:16:25 AM >


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RE: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 11/4/2012 10:01:24 AM   
Nexus Wookie


Posts: 2326
Joined: 24/9/2011
From: the Godcity
Also, I love the cameo by David Bowie!

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RE: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 11/4/2012 10:15:58 AM   
Spaldron


Posts: 10485
Joined: 6/10/2006
From: Chair

quote:

ORIGINAL: Nexus Wookie

Also, I love the cameo by David Bowie!


Completely forgot about that one.

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And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts
And I looked and behold, a pale horse
And his name that sat on him was Death
And Hell followed with him.

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RE: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 11/4/2012 10:41:16 AM   
The Hooded Man


Posts: 2773
Joined: 12/7/2006
As a practising Catholic I find the film to be uplifting and much more in line with what I view Jesus to be than Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ. The only part I would have truck with is Jesus building crucifixes and being so reluctant to be the saviour, but it's an exploration of the character and who he is.

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RE: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 13/4/2012 10:43:08 AM   
jobloffski

 

Posts: 1894
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: elsewhere
Ah, building crosses (the irony!) and reluctance, weight of destiny, making resisting temptation to have the freedom of normailty an even bigger deal in the context of the particular depiction, and stuff? Resisting temptation a bigger deal if temptation is actually experienced and faith a bigger thing if accessed via doubt, fear and reluctance?

< Message edited by jobloffski -- 13/4/2012 10:44:19 AM >


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Yes, dreamers dream and doers do. But if dreamers DON'T dream, doers don't have anything TO do. Everything that is only here because people exist, only exists because someone thought of it., or in other words, dreamed it.

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RE: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 13/4/2012 3:27:47 PM   
King of Kafiristan

 

Posts: 1004
Joined: 14/1/2012
From: The States
Nexus,

I read your review several days ago, but I've not gotten around to commenting till now. Partly it's that things on my end have been hectic, but more importantly you've done an excellent job summing up my own thoughts on the film, and have left me with little to say!

Instead, I'll just briefly mention a few of my favorite aspects of LAST TEMPTATION:

Despite having had it's budget scaled back dramatically from Scorsese's initial plans (when it was to star Pachino and Sting), the movie is gorgeous and contains shots as beautiful and stirring as any in his career. Specifically I'm thinking of Dafoe's confrontation with Satan in the desert, and the jet of flame springing up from the ground. Really breathtaking.

The music I think is one of the best elements in the film. Gabriel's work is truly stirring and heart felt. There seems to be real joy and passion to the sounds he corralled together. My favorite musical moments? When they're walking into Jerusalem, and one of the disciples asks Jesus if there will be angels there to greet them, as people have been talking and they're worried. Jesus just looks at him, without saying anything, smiles, and throws his arm over his shoulder as if to say "we'll have each other". The music cue at that moment is one of my all time favorite movie moments.

The swelling music at the end, with the fade out, I think is another of the films unforgettable sequences. I love how Scorsese allows the film to warp the light, flickering till it becomes a swirl of color. It's an old school effect, achieved photochemically (like a similar sequence in Kubrick's 2001), and I think that's what makes it so powerful, that the beauty is generated simply with light refracting through a lens.

When I first saw this movie in 9th grade, I said to my mom "This is the kind of movie that would make me want to be a Christian, if it were not for actual Christians and all the nonsense found in the bible"


Anyway, spot on review! I'm curious, have you seen KUNDUN? It was dismissed as a lesser Scorsese project at the time of it's release, but each time I watch it I find it more and more enchanting, and I think it certainly equals LAST TEMPTATION for the power of it's emotional impact, and perhaps exceeds it when it comes to sheer cinematic beauty. The was the film plays with mandala imagery towards the end is very stirring, and the cast of unknowns lend the film real weight, I think, along with the Phillip Glass score.

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RE: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 13/4/2012 11:13:22 PM   
Nexus Wookie


Posts: 2326
Joined: 24/9/2011
From: the Godcity
quote:

ORIGINAL: King of Kafiristan

Nexus,

I read your review several days ago, but I've not gotten around to commenting till now. Partly it's that things on my end have been hectic, but more importantly you've done an excellent job summing up my own thoughts on the film, and have left me with little to say!

Instead, I'll just briefly mention a few of my favorite aspects of LAST TEMPTATION:

Despite having had it's budget scaled back dramatically from Scorsese's initial plans (when it was to star Pachino and Sting), the movie is gorgeous and contains shots as beautiful and stirring as any in his career. Specifically I'm thinking of Dafoe's confrontation with Satan in the desert, and the jet of flame springing up from the ground. Really breathtaking.

The music I think is one of the best elements in the film. Gabriel's work is truly stirring and heart felt. There seems to be real joy and passion to the sounds he corralled together. My favorite musical moments? When they're walking into Jerusalem, and one of the disciples asks Jesus if there will be angels there to greet them, as people have been talking and they're worried. Jesus just looks at him, without saying anything, smiles, and throws his arm over his shoulder as if to say "we'll have each other". The music cue at that moment is one of my all time favorite movie moments.

The swelling music at the end, with the fade out, I think is another of the films unforgettable sequences. I love how Scorsese allows the film to warp the light, flickering till it becomes a swirl of color. It's an old school effect, achieved photochemically (like a similar sequence in Kubrick's 2001), and I think that's what makes it so powerful, that the beauty is generated simply with light refracting through a lens.

When I first saw this movie in 9th grade, I said to my mom "This is the kind of movie that would make me want to be a Christian, if it were not for actual Christians and all the nonsense found in the bible"


Anyway, spot on review! I'm curious, have you seen KUNDUN? It was dismissed as a lesser Scorsese project at the time of it's release, but each time I watch it I find it more and more enchanting, and I think it certainly equals LAST TEMPTATION for the power of it's emotional impact, and perhaps exceeds it when it comes to sheer cinematic beauty. The was the film plays with mandala imagery towards the end is very stirring, and the cast of unknowns lend the film real weight, I think, along with the Phillip Glass score.


Thanks for your input mate! You're right - the music is truly awesome to say the least, and I too love the music in the specific parts of the movie as you mentioned. It is a stunning piece of film making on the part of Scorsese, and as I stated earlier hugely underrated!

Scorsese is an expert when it comes to choosing music and merging it almost perfectly to a particular scene. One of my favourite soundtrack's to his films is for Goodfellas. Look at his use of the 'Layla' theme half way through as the kids discover the bodies in the car? Simply superb! And Raging Bull - his use of Mascagni's music is brilliant. The man is like a walking Music and Movie encyclopedia!

As for Kundun, i'm afraid my answer is no; I haven't watched it yet. I went on the hunt for a copy a while back but couldn't find any copy. Kundun is the ONLY Scorsese film - (along with Hugo which I wiill buy when its going for 10 or below) which is missing from my film library!. Maybe i'll try rent a copy online somewhere. And after I do watch it, i'll get back to you!

Thanks!

< Message edited by Nexus Wookie -- 14/4/2012 9:41:43 AM >


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