Quick-Thoughts: Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Don’t know what Willem Dafoe is doing playing the role of himself in this movie but okay.

Figuring out the path as you walk the path is the purpose of the path. Paul Schrader adapts a pretty introspective depiction of the internal battle of Jesus Christ and the two minds living in his soul, incrementally becoming more and more of a loosened, final host for God. Martin Scorsese’s direction of hallucinogenic-like special effects, editing, and camera personalities weave neatly with the audible grace of the time period’s perceived musical and dramatic commonalities as well, making The Last Temptation of Christ quite the exceptional experience, not to mention more importantly though how its contemplative reimagining of the legendary Gospel is what really makes it an unusual stand out in the filmmaker’s catalog. 

I suppose Christ still manages to appear as life’s greatest plot device in this, but through a far different and less determined lens than your average ascribing of his narrative, one that seems interested in our innate reluctancy for predetermination, using Satan and God as metaphorical figures of prophesies we devise to pave out our journey in conflicting desires, therefore humanizing Christ as a regular person with flawed duties rather than how he is usually referred to as the selfless Messiah who saved all with one spick and span scheme created by the Lord — sheesh, no wonder this film caught so much controversy. Judas’s alteration is also insanely contrasting here, depicting him not as someone who betrays Christ purely of greed, but as someone who was self-aware of the necessity of committing a betrayal because he knew it was God’s plan. It circles back to this concept of the aimlessness of being a follower. How can we worship or follow a plan of God when we can’t tell if it’s Him or the Devil speaking? Why is this plan so expected of completion upon our hesitant hands when all it takes is one unwilling host to ruin it all? If there is a plan, why does God punish those when free-will is practically fictional in the sacred texts of the Gospel? Is the symbolism of His graphic event really that important to be seen as truth, especially when its content is so easy to be misinterpreted by His children as shown in the film, or should it be read only as artistic and moral inspiration? It’s been around 2,000 years since the tale was told and yet we in the present age still cannot come to an agreeable consensus on whether or not God wants us to show His love or His anger after the death and rebirth of Christ. That says a lot, but maybe that’s what makes stories special: the subjectivity of them, not the correct answers behind their creators.

“How could I be the Messiah when those people were torturing Magdalene, I wanted to kill them?”

If Christ is the son of man, then he must think like a man, right? Wow, Shoutout to Scorsese, Schrader, and Kazantzakis for their chad take on the Gospel! 

Verdict: B+

Martin Scorsese Ranked

“The Last Temptation of Christ” is now available to stream on Starz.

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