THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
DIRECTOR: MARTIN SCORCESE
AMERICA/GREECE 1988
SUPER FEATURES: BASED ON THE NOVEL BY NIKKOS KATZANZAKIS
MUSIC: PETER GABRIEL
SCREENPLAY: PAUL SCHRADER
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: MICHAEL BALLHAUS
CAST: William Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie


The unfortunate thing is that this is not a film for the general audiences. And specially one type of audience that does not show a literary interpretation of a story that is well known by very nebulous facts and tales.

The best thing is that this is a magnificent piece of work, that is going to be ignored by emotionally laden masses, who would rather believe a translated idea, than check out another country's point of view. You would figure that a country that is only five to six hundred miles away from where it all happened would know something about it all, and had some hand in the aftermath of the events. While this film is generally accepted through out most of Europe, for its human and personal view of Jesus the Christ, it is vigorously attacked by church officials who only accept their own view and ideology as the correct version of the incidents. As a belief, it will die as time goes by. But as a story, which many people witnessed, it will live. It's just as well, that a church that doesn't believe in people's perceptions and god given gifts, should die. It's purpose is self serving, and that was not what Jesus was all about, and that is not what this FILM is about, either.

Written by a master novelist, and excellent writer who first made his mark by getting a few Oscars spread around with a film called "ZORBA, THE GREEK", this is not so much the story of Jesus, as it is a quotidian study of the time, and the events which led to the stories. Being Greek, a country that has a rugged edge, in both terrain and life, creates a story that is likewise, rugged, and edgy, but to a very good effect. All of a sudden Jesus is a man that is tormented by the same dilemmas we are. He can't deal with his visions very well, and has severe problems with some stigmata's. And spends the better part of his life trying to figure it all out, until one day he decides that he better do something about all this. And he does. His "ministry" only lasted some four years, but in that time he accomplished a lot, although his 'disciples' didn't quite get the gist of the visions, perceptions, understandings, and how to deal with it. Which of course, is natural, since one man's visions are not necessarily another's, and the process of translating and explaining is not easy. Chances are, and the book suggests that, the disciples did learn much from meditating, and how to work with the vision space, but in a tormented area, where they were being chased, and persecuted by the Hebrew authorities (rather than the Romans), the chances of their survival, and ability to study and meditate quietly was in peril, and they had to move either north, or west, where they might be unrecognized and get more of the work done. This they did, despite the Bible's versions.

It's the NORMAL and NATURAL thing to do. As time went by, other stories were created around many of these groups. In Northern Turkey, they made up a group called the MEROVINGLIANS, who were a whole civilization of mountain
people, known for their amazing psychic feats, that featured kings with incredible powers. It is generally accepted that the story of king Arthur got its inception from the many tales surrounding these peoples. And in Europe they became a group in northern Italy of mountain people, who still to this day, claim a direct line of descendents to Jesus, much to the chagrin of the catholic church, which in the 11th century, went out and annihilated nearly twenty thousand of these people, to make sure they had no competition. It was one of the single, and largest manslaughter cases ever. Much of the black magic, and witchcraft surviving these days, still has its roots in that time as a revenge factor and symbol of defiance to the group that killed so many innocent people because they wanted a religion, not a REALITY.

(Wording taken from "HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL" and THE "NAJ HAMMADHI LIBRARY SCRIPTS")

With an outstanding cast, and superb music, this film actually comes off much more as a study of a human psyche, and its internal battles, much more than it does the life of Christ. I think, were we to take it as such, this film would appear much more curious, and closer to how we might feel if we had similar kind of experiences, and feelings.

Perhaps what hurts this film the most is that the language used is not that of the well known, and often quoted, scriptures, which makes for a few moments of awkward dialogue, if the ear is not used to listen to the words and letters themselves. This, I admit, I had a little problem with. The poetic version of the scripture is actually good, even with its literary license, and the dialogue in this film is less poetic, and a bit more street wise, which is more likely than not, closer to the real thing.

I think the cast is good. And I think that Martin Scorcese's direction is very clear, and to the point, and rarely steps aside from a confrontational view point. It tends to downplay the Hebrew and the Roman influence on the actual events, and concentrate much more on the individual feelings of a man....as it should be.

VERY GOOD FILM, IF YOU PUT YOUR BELIEFS ASIDE.

VISUALLY, AND MUSICALLY, STUNNING PIECE OF WORK. SHOULD BE SEEN IN A BIG SCREEN FOR BETTER EFFECT.

5 GIBLOONS

 

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