This is truly an amazing film. There is a lot of controversy that has surrounded it since its conception, but it is absolutely remarkable, nonetheless.
The Last Temptation of Christ is a Scorcese film that tells the story of the Gospels, more or less, but with a change. Well, with a few changes, like music by Peter Gabriel and Willem Dafoe playing Jesus, and the doubts and weaknesses that are generally not associated with the Son of Man. However, the change to which I refer is the last temptation itself. The devil comes to him in the form of a little girl as he hangs on the cross and tempts him with the creature comforts of a family and long life. He accepts, thinking that the girl is an angel from God, and comes down from the cross. He marries Mary Magdalene, until she dies, then marries Mary, the sister of Lazarus. On his death bed, Israel is burning to the ground and there is no salvation because he never fulfilled his fate. The world is completely wrong. And so he finds himself back on the cross. He never came down. It was only his desires.
The controversy comes in portraying Jesus as a man. But Jesus was a man. He is fully man and fully God, and we know that He experienced fear. We know that He didn't want to die on the cross. The night before He died, he prayed to God as he cried uncontrollably and sweat blood, for goodness sake, saying to his father that if there were any way that He did not have to do this, please, by all means. He was terrified. He did it because it was God's will and it was for the good of mankind. That was His divine nature. But His nature as a man made Him fearful, and He would have done it another way if He could. As a religious person, I see some flaws with how the Gospel is represented. But all in all, I do not consider it blasphemous as long as you take it as fiction.
I was intrigued by the way Judas was represented. Judas was Jesus' friend, and in this film, it is his fate to betray him. He was not an inherently evil person. He was supposed to. It had to be done. We believe that Judas betrayed Jesus because of greed, and that his sin sent him to hell. But it may be true that it was fate. Who knows the will of God? It could be true. We know that Jesus had to die. He knew that, too. Judas was part of that plan. It is an interesting representation of Judas.
This story line has been used in several other television shows that I am aware of, obviously modeled from the film. That is was interested me in seeing the film. I was very familiar with the story, enough that I was able to notice these take-offs, so I wanted to see the real thing. The X-Files made a famous episode where Mulder was tempted by creature comforts and leaving his quest for the truth. It was an obvious take-off, and it was full of Christian symbolism. It marked the beginning of the shows entrance into a religous allegory where Mulder portrayed a Christ figure that lasted until the end of the series. It is fascinating that they chose the story line of this film to mark the beginning of that allegory.
The only complaint that I have about this film is that, like this blog, is was entirely too long. It was more than two hours before he even recieved his last temptation. I think they just as easily could have began with Jesus' first 3 temptations, then moved right into Holy Week.
Other than that, I think this is a brilliant, thought-provoking film that everyone should see--as long as they keep an open mind.
(Final blog. Jami out.)