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. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Most reviewers are missing the point of this film. This film is an exploration of Christian doctrine of the hypostatic union as defined by the Catholic Churchs Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. The text at the beginning of the movie even says that it's not based on the gospels but on a book that goes in depth into the little-understood doctrine of Jesus' hypostatic union. The doctrine states that Jesus is both 100% man and 100% God. He experienced hunger, pain, and all the emotions that we as humans feel as well, arguably except the negative emotions such as hate and pride. Sexual attraction is an emotion as well. Jesus was 100% man, and as with any human being he must have had sexual desires (which isnt sinful at all unless you are still living by Puritan ethics). I think "The Last Temptation of Christ" gives a unique perspective that is rarely seen, a Jesus with flaws, temptation, and desire to sin by his human nature, while knowing it's wrong by his God nature.
Since believable history, stripped of myth and dogma, tells us very little about the real Jesus (there was a Jesus some 2000 years ago, and he was crucified), to me one fictional account is as good as another. This one is quite good. Jesus is wracked by self-doubt, Judas is the only strong-willed fellow about, and Satan's temptations are very sophisticated indeed. It is admittedly fiction, which should not offend the beliefs of anyone but those brainwashed by organized religion. Christians, Jews, and others, open your minds and watch this movie! You might enjoy it, and you might learn something about your own beliefs. I did. (By the way, I didn't find the movie overlong, the conclusion confusing, or the soundtrack irritating.)
Although I consider myself to be a faithful Christian, I was intruiged when I read the description for this film as well as by the severity of the reviews listed. Always open for controversey, I decided to rent it. The film is very interesting, and offers a unique viewpoint to approach Jesus and his humanity. I had always envisioned a confident and assured Christ during his lifetime on earth, but the film portrays Jesus as an unsure, fearful, and confused leader. I did not agree, however, with the mixture of fact and fiction in the plot, including Jesus being portrayed as a carpenter of crucifixes. In my opinion, I think this movie brought me even closer to Jesus spiritually because it enabled me to identify with him as a human The only things I disagree with are the film's lenth, which is ridiculously long and not needed, the confusing storyline at the finale, and the blending of fact and fiction.