After hearing so much uproar about the movie and how it should be  banned, I figured I'd take a look at it for myself to see what all the talk was about. I bought the movie in 1998 and watched it.

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Review By
Allen Paul Weaver III

Note from David Bruce: My thanks to Allen for sending in this review on a very difficult film. I am looking forward to some great discussions on this film. Please give your comments at the bottom of this page.

... the movie is a "what if" story.
     Ok...Here's my take on "The Last Temptation of Christ"

     After hearing so much uproar about the movie and how it should be   banned, I figured I'd take a look at it for myself to see what all the talk was about. I bought the movie in 1998 and watched it.

     Although it was not biblically accurate in some areas (there was a  disclaimer at the beginning stating so) I thought it was an excellent  film. Sure it was long but so what?

     In that movie, I saw a few enlightening points. First, I saw Jesus in  the most human light ever portrayed on screen. What I mean by this is   that Jesus was both God and human and the bible says that he was tempted  in every way... The movie seemed to focus on the most human side of  Jesus. I saw him struggle with his calling. What exactly was he to do  on this earth? When he discovered it in the fullness of God's plan,  would he turn away from it because of his own fear? I could relate to  his struggle because I struggle with my calling. Who doesn't struggle  with their calling? Second, the movie focused on the craftiness of the  devil. The different forms he approached Jesus in and how he even tried  to imitate forms representing God. The Bible talks about the devil  "coming as an angel of light." He's a counterfeiter. Coming as the  lion, the pillar of fire, the little angel boy (or was that a girl...I  couldn't tell) Finally, I saw a very interesting account of what the  movie maker's eyes envisioned to be Jesus' last temptation. I often  wonder what things would have been like if Jesus would have gotten down  off the cross. Especially if he would have come down in anger.   Everything would be lost...everything: you, me...everything. But Praise  God that Jesus did not get down off the cross. Praise God that Jesus  obeyed his Father to the point of death, that we might have life. Praise God that Jesus rose on the third day with all POWER in his hand.  Praise God that through Jesus we are redeemed!

     The Last Temptation of Christ... the movie is a "what if" story. It  makes me think about this Christian walk of mine. It makes me open my  eyes more to see the traps of the enemy when they come. It makes me   draw closer to God, because he did so much for me. The movie gave me  more hope because if Jesus, who is the Son of God made flesh...if he  struggled with his calling and temptation and overcame them all; then  through the POWER of Christ, I too can overcome.

     When watching this attention to the high points and not just  the low points.

Allen Paul Weaver III

Review by

Film Reviewer
Simon graduated from Trinity Western University where he studied film under prolific screenwriter Ned Vankevich. He prefers independent and lower-budget films.

The Last Temptation of Christ: Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ does not claim to be an accurate retelling of the Gospels; it clearly states this at the beginning, however, some parts of the film are accurate. While it is interesting to look at the similarities and differences between the film and the Gospels, the only claim this film makes is to closely look at the struggle between spirit and flesh, and it does this passionately.

In this regard it does not stray far from Scorsese's earlier work, particularly Mean Streets, where Harvey Keitel's character, a small time gangster in New York's Little Italy, is torn between spirit and flesh. He desires to advance in the mob underworld but is tortured by his Catholic faith. He is so obsessed with the tortures of hell that in one scene he holds his hand over an open flame to see what it feels like.

The Last Temptation of Christ raises many interesting questions while illuminating the humanness of Jesus. I think a lot of people, Christians and non-Christians alike, often forget that Jesus was a human being who experienced the various emotions that all humans experience: love, fear, anger, affection, hurt, longing, etc. To say that Jesus was without sin, as the Gospels and various other texts suggest, does not mean he did not experience these myriad emotions. Scorsese highlights the possible insecurity Jesus felt when responding to the call of God, the rage Jesus displayed when he entered the temple only to discover it had been turned into a "den of thieves," and Jesus' extreme fear and anxiety in the garden of Gethsemane before being lead to his execution. (Many Christians believe that we should always unflinchingly respond to God's call but Jesus himself was terrified, he begged God to find another way.)

Roger Ebert comments on Scorsese's elucidation of Jesus' humanness, saying, "To be fully man, Jesus would have had to possess all of the weaknesses of man, to be prey to all of the temptations-for as man, he would have possessed God's most troublesome gift, free will." Hal Hinson of the Washington Post adds, "In this they attempt to strike a universal chord-to place Christ not above us, and above our weaknesses, but on a level with us, and prone to the same doubts and temptations."

Although the film does not maintain that it is based on the Gospels it loosely follows the events recorded in them. However, these events are altered for dramatic purposes. For example, the Gospels say Jesus was a carpenter before he began his ministry but in the film Jesus makes crosses for the Romans who are killing Jews. In the film Jesus visits John the Baptist, referred to simply as the Baptist, in the desert to be baptized but it is after several other events occur (Jesus gives the sermon on the mount and saves the prostitute, Mary Magdalene, from a mob of angry Jews who are stoning her: he challenges whoever is without sin to cast the first stone), whereas in Scripture Jesus' baptism marks the beginning of his ministry. He also performs several miracles in the film before turning water into wine at a wedding; a miracle the Gospel writers concur was his first.

I think the film would have been more effective had it followed the life and events of Jesus chronologically; the story of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels has fantastic dramatic conflict, building up to the climactic execution, without altering anything. I found the conflict in the film a little confusing at times. In both the Gospels and the film Jesus is a revolutionary and a threat to the Romans, but in the Gospels the threat is more apparent: The religious leaders felt endangered because Jesus opposed many of their religious laws and traditions, replacing them with a new covenant and new ideas. And none of the instances, as recorded in Scripture, where Jesus harshly opposes the Pharisees and Scribes are included in the film.

But in the film Christ's death is not so much the climax, his hallucination, or last temptation, on the cross is. I remember when this film was released Christians were up in arms about this "blasphemous" film where Jesus fantasizes about having sex with Mary Magdalene while on the cross. I am sure most of these people never considered watching the film and forming their own opinions, but those who did see the film and made these accusations obviously missed the point. Jesus' last temptation is not a fantasy about having sex with Mary; rather it is a fantasy, or hallucination about coming down from the cross and living out the remainder of his life as a normal man.

While some people referred to the scene where Jesus and Mary have sex as pornographic, Roger Ebert comments, "This scene is shot with such restraint and tact that it does not qualify in any way as a 'sex scene,' but instead is simply an illustration of marriage and the creation of children." Lucia Bozzola adds, "Though fundamentalists loudly protested a brief scene featuring Willem Dafoe's Christ procreating with Barbara Hershey's Mary Magdalene, the real 'offense' was portraying Jesus as fully human as well as fully divine-and thus subject to doubts, fears, and temptation via a deceptively angelic girl offering a vision of normal life." Bozzola continues, "Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader's aim to think through the meaning of Christ's dual nature and the Passion, however, becomes a sincere affirmation of faith through its very humanism."

Those who criticized The Last Temptation of Christ for not accurately retelling the Gospel story missed the disclaimer at the beginning of the film and they also obviously could not swallow a film that expounded Christ's humanness. Just as Lucia Bozzola suggests in her critique of the film, it was not the procreation scene that was offensive but the powerful depiction of Christ's dual nature.

Martin Scorsese, one of our greatest filmmakers, made a film about Jesus that captured his humanness in a way no other film had done before. Previous films about Jesus only looked at his divine qualities, ignoring the human ones. Perhaps the film was and still is offensive to many because people would rather not see Christ the way he is presented here. Perhaps serving a God who struggled with the temptations of the flesh is not comforting, and Christians would rather not see a portrayal of Christ that does not match their perceptions of him.

The Last Temptation of Christ is a challenging film that looks at a side of Christ that is oft overlooked. It forces us to re-evaluate our perceptions of Christ and therefore challenges our worldviews. It is a powerful and thought-provoking look at an historical figure that changed the way we think and live.
Bulletin Board

Subject: Last Temptation of Christ
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002
From: Justin

I just recently viewed this film and I really did not understand why everyone considered it blasphemous. The movie never claimed to be anything but a work of fiction. It never once said "this is the truth about Christ" or anything of that sort. And yet all the "christians" said it was evil and anyone who watched it was going to hell. My first question would be how do you go to hell just for watching a movie? I always thought that you went to hell if you did not accept Christ, but I guess I am not a theology scholar, so what would I know. Upon my viewing of this film I did realize there were some errors, but not any errors involving Jesus as a homosexual. (Who came up with that idea anyways?) I liked the "what if" ideas the film gave. I liked how it portrayed Jesus struggling with his calling and trying to understand it. I think it really showed the human side of Christ in a new light. Of course it was not entirely accurate, but then again it never claimed to be. The ending scene on the cross really gave a triumphant ending , and showed how Christ was willing to die for us. It made me see His love for me. The "last temptation" scenes were fun to watch, because I think it showed that Christ perhaps could have lead a normal life with marriage and family,but yet at such a great cost! The film also portrayed Satan very well. We saw a Satan ,not as an evil,scary looking being, but as an innocent looking child. I think that really shows the idea of the "angel of light" very well. Overall I liked the movie, I did however have a few problems with it. I did not like the John the Baptist scene, the whole dancing naked women thing was a little too weird for me. Maybe someone could help me understand that one?? Also I think maybe the film portrayed Jesus as maybe being too human. It seemed at some points of the film it showed Christ as having no idea what was going on as far as His ministry was concerned. But maybe I looked at it wrong, I am very open to other opinions. (as I hope you can tell) I do challenge christians to watch this movie, and watch it with an open mind. I have seen many posts about this movie, and have seen many people who have no idea of what they are talking about. Hence back to the whole gay Jesus thing. I would really like to know why people believe everything they hear. On a side note to those who post to this site rebuking everyone and trying to hurt David's ministry: Grow up. What does arguing and sending hate mail solve? What does it do to our witness? I have seen many people post on this site who admit they are unsaved. What kind of message are we sending to them when we argue and pick fights? I think maybe some soul searching is in order. Paul said all things are permissable ,but not all things are profitable. Argueing is of course permissable, but it gets us nowhere. Lets learn to love. Thats what Jesus would say to us. Feel free to contact me (in love) if you have any thoughts. Thank you David for such a wonderful site, may God continue to bless your ministry. Please post my email address.
Forever His Servant.......justin

Subject: Last Temptation of Christ
Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2001
From: JP

I can explain why the previous mention was made concerning Jesus as a homosexual in the movie:

When I was 12 years old, my church gave children and adults alike pamphlets to hand out at the protests of movie theatres in Indianapolis. I travelled with my youth group to several different movie theatres to join in these protests, handing out as many brochures as I could. I was disgusted that such a movie as "The Last Temotation of Christ" could be playing down the street from where I live. Many were grateful and kind for the information, but there were those who looked at me with this sort of condescending stare, an almost disappointed look on their face as if to say, "So young and yet already well on his way to ignorance". It is a time I will never forget.

The crux of the story is: these pamphlets told the boldfaced lie that there is a homosexual scene in the movie with Jesus and another man- a scene that never takes place, and these (we) were Christians distributing them!!! Ever since then, the lie has circulated among the Christian community, especially in the more conservative right-wing churches. No one knows where the lie started, but it is the "token" offense that many Christians have learned to use against the movie even though itis unfounded. I've learned better since then, especially after having read the book and seen the movie, even come to terms with Christianity, but it doesn't take away the shame I had felt from being part of such a lie when I was 12 years old. God forgive us all.

Subject: Heresy
Date: Thu, 3 May 2001
From: Bro. Robbie

The last temptation of Christ is a movie that portrays Jesus as a homosexual. That pretty much sealed it for me. This movie is a peace of trash. You have heard of blasphemy?

Response: Did we see the same film? Did you see it? The basic idea in the film was Jesus' temptation to have been married, with children. You are simply telling a lie about a film you have not seen. You are being so unfair. You are sinning -to put it bluntly. -David


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