Last Temptation of Christ

Last Temptation of Christ

4.5 17
Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Martin Scorsese, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey


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Willem Dafoe plays Jesus Christ in this extraordinarily controversial adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel. The film depicts a sometimes reluctant, self-doubting Jesus, gradually coming to accept His divinity and the inexorability of His ultimate fate. The much-maligned sex scene with Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) occurs as an hallucination experienced by Jesus…  See more details below


Willem Dafoe plays Jesus Christ in this extraordinarily controversial adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel. The film depicts a sometimes reluctant, self-doubting Jesus, gradually coming to accept His divinity and the inexorability of His ultimate fate. The much-maligned sex scene with Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) occurs as an hallucination experienced by Jesus as he suffers on the cross. This particular sequence was what infuriated the film's most rabid critics, but in fact it is just one of many iconoclastic musings to be found in the film and its source novel. Equally volatile are the intimations that, as a carpenter, Jesus indifferently shaped the crucifixes for other condemned prisoners long before his own fate was sealed, and that Judas (Harvey Keitel) was literally manipulated into betrayal by a Christ whose preoccuption with his own destiny compelled him to "use" others. None of these departures from the normal interpretation of the scriptures are offered as any more than theory; as such, it was accepted as food for thought by the more open-minded clerics and Biblical scholars who recommended the film.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Canceled in 1983, finally made in 1987, and embroiled in controversy, Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) is the ultimate labor of love and a singularly thought-provoking take on the life of Jesus. 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. 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 and, yes, humor. Shot on a minimal budget in Morocco, Scorsese's rough, stripped-down style avoids Hollywood biblical gloss and turns Jesus and his Apostles into accessible, rough-accented human beings, paradoxically making Jesus' acceptance of his fate all the more effective (though Harvey Keitel's Brooklynite Judas provoked some derision). Released amid vociferous criticism (from fundamentalist Christians who refused to actually see it), The Last Temptation of Christ earned good notices and Scorsese an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Certain video chains, however, won't stock it.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
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[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
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Special Features

Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack by supervising sound editor Skip Lievsay; Audio commentary featuring director Martin Scorsese, actor Willem Dafoe, and writers Paul Schrader and Jay Cocks; Galleries of production stills, research materials, and costume designs; Location production footage shot by Scorsese; Interview with composer Peter Gabriel, with a stills gallery of traditional instrunments used in the score; PLUS: An essay by film critic David Ehrenstein

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Willem Dafoe Jesus Christ
Harvey Keitel Judas Iscariot
Barbara Hershey Mary Magdalene
Harry Dean Stanton Paul,Saul
David Bowie Pontius Pilate
Verna Bloom Mary, Mother of Jesus
Andre Gregory John the Baptist
Juliette Caton Girl Angel
Roberts Blossom Aged Master
Irvin Kershner Zebedee
Gary Basaraba Andrew, Apostle
Victor Argo Peter, Apostle
Michael Been John, Apostle
Paul Herman Phillip, Apostle
John Lurie James, Apostle
Leo Burmeister Nathaniel, Apostle
Alan Rosenberg Thomas, Apostle
Tomas Arana Lazarus
Nehemiah Persoff Rabbi
Barry Miller Jeroboam
Mahamed Ait Fdil Ahmed Other Apostle
Peter Berling Beggar
Penny Brown Actor
Russell Case Person at Sermon
Randy Danson Mary, Sister of Lazarus
Illeana Douglas Actor
Peggy Gormley Martha, Sister of Lazarus
Paul Greco Zealot
Donald Hodson Saducee
Mohamed Mabsout Other Apostle
Donna Marie Person at Sermon
Leo Marks Devil
Ahmed Nacir Other Apostle
Del Russell Money Changer
Mokhtar Salouf Other Apostle
Mary Sellers Person at Sermon
Steven Shill Centurion
Robert Spafford Man at Wedding
Doris Von Thury Woman with Mary, Mother of Jesus
Dale Wyatt Actor
Domenico Fiore Actor

Technical Credits
Martin Scorsese Director
Michael Ballhaus Cinematographer
John Beard Production Designer
Cis Corman Casting
Barbara de Fina Producer
Jean-Pierre Delifer Costumes/Costume Designer
Giorgio Desideri Set Decoration/Design
Iginio Fiorentini Special Effects
Peter Gabriel Score Composer
Gino Galliano Special Effects
Joseph P. Reidy Asst. Director
Manilo Rocchetti Makeup
Franco Salamon Stunts
Andrew Sanders Art Director,Production Designer
Thelma Schoonmaker Editor
Paul Schrader Screenwriter
Harry Ufland Executive Producer
Lahcen Zinoune Choreography

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The Last Temptation of Christ 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Only the simple-minded could condemn this film without seeing it in its entirety. The film posits as its central thesis Christ's realization that, had he rejected God, a life of possibility awaited him. Christ on the cross, in his great suffering, called out to God, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" The film is, in its essence, profoundly Christian, as Christ rejects the lures of the Devil, as in the Gospel according to Matthew, and embraces his Messianic purpose. The film, then, is in the end profoundly and conventionally religious. I suggest those who condemn it see it, think, and judge it according to what it really says.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is simply the most perfect portrayal of the human spiritual journey I have ever enjoyed. It is wonderful to take Jesus out of his divine wrapping and have him walk in this imperfect world. This story inspired me, while the original/mainstream story of Christ never did. When he is no longer guarunteed salvation (at least in his own mind), Jesus becomes truly brave, with everything to lose. Only in this way does his sacrifice become meaningful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This powerful movie tells the story of Christ like never before. I have read and heard the stories of Jesus my entire life but they always seemed so distant and unreal until i saw this movie. This movie gives Jesus a human aspect that inspires.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must comment that the previous reviewer apparently missed the word 'Novel' in the introduction to the movie. I would bet he/she did not even see the movie. This is my favorite movie and one that I felt was profoundly spiritual. The 'dream' sequence, which is the most controversial, was exactly that, a DREAM...not fact. This is a movie that needs to be seen several times to get all the nuances and references to archaeological historical fact. To view a movie like this requires an OPEN mind, not one set on comparing a 'novel' to a sacred text. As for 'Passion?' That was GIBSON's 'passionate' lust for gratuitous violence. At least Kazanzakis names his book what it really is: a novel. One of the best performances by Willem Defoe. David Bowie was the perfect choice for Pontius Pilot. Scorsese's amazing ability to use a minimal number of actors in crowd scenes, has one imagining a cast of thousands! Very moving, made all the more so by Gabriel's wonderful sound track utilizing authentic middle eastern instruments. Blood, yes, but not gratutious violence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of all, remember that being tempted is not the same as giving into temptation. We are all tempted on a daily basis, but our "good" is how we say "no" to the temptation. I feel this is what the author was conveying when he wrote the book. Who does satan tempt? Those who are trying to live good lives. He may not need to tempt people who don't care to do good or believe in God because they are already going in the wrong direction, the way satan wants them to. So he picks on, with God's permission, those that are trying not to fall. Who do you think satan throws the most obstacles at and in the most cunning way? Those trying to lead a perfect life. Who is the best candidate for this? Jesus our Lord, who, out of love came to earth to live as a human to show us how to live. Yes he was still God the Son, but as the Spirit tells us through scripture, he lived just like us, eating, sleeping, and dealing with the fears and hopes that we all do. He was scared in Gethsemene. He was thirsty while carrying the cross. This is not to say he was weak, but that he showed us how to rely on our trust in God's love to see us through. How can you say Jesus loves us so much if was simple and easy for Him to die for us. I agree that it was a struggle for Him to be the perfect lamb, yet he made all the right choices to become just that. He was tempted in the desert but the temptations must have continued and gotten harder. This makes sense since the last thing satan wants to see is Christ dying for our sins! So why not think that maybe some of the theme of this book/ movie could not have truth to it? When I heard this movie got condemned by the christian community I didn't give it a chance either. But years later a watched the ENTIRE movie to get the FULL theme and I cry thinking of how Jesus may have been offered other things to make him happy, but he gave all that up for all of us, to die for us. Now THAT'S what I call love, sacrificing for others. I also agree with others who remind the viewer that the book/ movie is not trying to change the story of Christ's passion, but just to look at it from another POSSIBLE perspective to see deeper into Jesus' true mission. I know this takes an open mind to accept, but maybe we should pray for a more open mind when we look at a lot of things. The movie was GREAT and is in my collection of Jesus movies which I loan out to people to learn more. PEACE
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I only saw this movie because there were certain elements of the religous community that said it was bad and 'dangerous.' I am glad I did see it. I was breathtaken at this film. It is obviously about the stuggle that the 'writer' has between good and evil. To choose rightousness or not to choose rightousness. It was beautiful and powerfull. NOT AT ALL anti-Christian, nor is there that much of a departure from scripture. In my opinion the person who said it was is not very in tune with The One True God. Lastly this was a much better film thatn 'The Passion' by Mel Gibson, sorry Mel, but two hours of a man being torchured is not my idea of good entertainment, I hope you worked out your personal problem by making your movie. God, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, YHWH, JHVH Bless all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie impacted me initially because I had to see what Jesus Christ really gave up. Sure it's earthly concerns but, if you haven't made up your mind on Him this is a step in understanding. Now I watch this movie from the perspective of an original disciple. Ones who may have heard of a messiah coming but, wasn't quite sure if this Jesus was the one. From that perspective the movie is powerful and explains a lot of the confusion with the true Biblical story. The disciples lived it, then told it or wrote it down. The New Testament had not obviously been written yet and if you can watch this movie with that big grain of salt you can have a feel for what you might have felt had you initially walked beside Him. The scene with John the Baptist in my book is one of the best scenes ever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am addressing this to the writter who gave this movie one star. The book by the same name is a NOVEL, in other words, FICTION, "loosely based on the gospels." The author did NOT pretend it to be historical FACT! Did Jesus make crosses for the Romans? I doubt it. The dream sequence while on the cross was a DREAM and therefore also FICTIONAL. Why get so upset about a work of fiction? Mel Gibson's fiasco of violence is ridiculous! The Roman's would NEVER have spent that much time with a little known common criminal roughing him up! They didn't care! A Jew was a Jew was a Jew was a Jew. A few lashes with a whip and punches in the gut, shed some blood and nail 'em up! They hated being in Judea. The gospels were written to justify the execution of the leader of a small movement that would have died out because he was executed as a mere criminal. How better to convince your followers with your OWN set of novels?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is a great departure from what the Holy Scripture really says about Jesus Christ. This is the 'what if' movie of Jesus Christ. It is very much Anti-Christian; a blatant mockery of Christ's love for humanity, if you will. However, if you're quite an open-minded person yourself, well, at least you'd learn to appreciate this Scorsese junk. We all love Martin Scorsese, but this one movie that he made could make your head scrtach. Hate it, love it- it's up to you. The way it was made was undoubtedly great. Splendid. Artsy. Nevertheless, we all know that everything that is in this movie is a lie - a very big lie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Last Temptation, is horrible. Not only is it false, but it was directed by a guy who does crime and gangsta movies. Jesus Christ is sacred, and although he was tempted, he was not tempted by the flesh of women and he never said 'God loves me, I want him to stop.' That is TRASH! Go watch 'The Passion of the Christ.' That is accurately accurate. This is trash and Christian-Catholic dissing.