The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
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A film I'd rented in the early 90s, but didn't remember much from except the eponymous climax. In fact, I was under the impression the whole film was that "Last Temptation". But no, we're taken through much of Jesus' recorded life before that moment on the cross. Now THIS is controversial, because matters of faith always are, and those who boycotted it missed out on one of the better and most faithful portrayals of Christ ever put to film. This isn't a historical Jesus that debunks the Bible and tells us he was man but not God. God speaks to him, Satan is real, and in case someone wants to claim it's all in his head, he really accomplishes the miracles from the Gospels. This is the Biblical Jesus. What seems objectionable to some is that Jesus struggles with his mission, tries to delay it, is afraid of it, as second thoughts even once he embarks on it, and comes very close to abandoning it. But this is from Scripture, folks. Those moments are recorded in the New Testament, including the idea that he doesn't start until he's 30 despite knowing his true nature since he was a child. Dramatizing this can be shocking to those who thump a book they haven't read or understood, I understand. But the flaw isn't in the film. In the Bible, God asks his son to sacrifice himself for humanity's sins. It's not much of a sacrifice if this is easy to do, and Last Temptation gets this completely right. The Passion of the Christ tried to do this by showing torture and suffering of the body, but Last Temptation presents suffering of the soul. That's a much stronger and more truthful idea. That said, the New York accents of the cast, and general casting, can be distracting. There's an odd modernity to the voices and faces. But the film is thought-provoking enough to make all that moot.
Um, did you guys know that Scorsese is kind of a freaking genius?
Note to self: Do not watch this film in the middle of the night in the dark, it will kinda freak the hell outta you....
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #67 in Tim Dirks' Most Controversial Films of All-Time
This movie ranks #69 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #317 in Cahiers du cinéma - Yearly top 10s
This movie ranks #334 in Roger Ebert: the great movies
This movie ranks #469 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #531 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #799 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?