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Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday Four-Star Flashback

The Last Temptation of Chirst
1988-Martin Scorsese
* * * *
R for Nudity, violence.
Why have a 4-star flashback this week? With all the controversy over the Da-Vinci Code, and also, as I was flipping through channels the other night I hit the tele-vangelism channel, and some Pat Robertson clone was going off on Dan Brown's lack of historical evidence (It' fiction!) anyway, he mentioned that all this started with Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ which he said perpetuated the myth that Christ never was crucified (he seemed to have not remembered it was a book published by Niko Katsanzakis in the 1960's). Now I was ticked off, the guy has obviously not seen the film, where the last magnificent frame as the film speeds out is of Chirst dying! Like most people who see this movie he missed the point. Schrader, who wrote a rather influential book of film transcendence, and Scorsese, a strong Catholic, didn't make a nihilistic Jesus film. It is a theological question not so much about the divinity of Christ, as it is the connection between the family of Eve and Satan. In fact, I believe the film is about Lucifer, more than Christ. We see Christ tormented at humanity, both in him and in the world, it's failings, and most importantly it's potential to be beautiful. And what is the last temptation? In his most daibolical temptation given to Christ, Satan says he can marry, have a family, and be happy. If one believes that Christ was divine, and that Satan was real, this film delves deep into very important questions on the humanity of Christ, the reality of Satan, and the importance of Christ's mission. The film isn't perfect, Defoe isn't always spot on, though Harvey Kietel gives arguably his best performance as Judas, and it has some pacing issues, but the film is beautifully shot and has a great score by Peter Gabriel.

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