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  #31  
Old Feb 17, '12, 7:08 pm
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anp1215 anp1215 is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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Originally Posted by patrick457 View Post
If you're asking my personal opinion, yes Jesus of Nazareth is one good Jesus film out there. I gotta warn you that it's very long though: in its full version, it has a runtime of a little over six hours. (It was originally broadcast as two 180-minute episodes.)
Some viewers find Robert Powell's rather stiffly ultra-divine, non-blinking blue-eyed Jesus to be a bit distracting, but the other characters I feel are well-acted, and the attention to detail is very good.

As mentioned earlier, there was this little incident with Bob Jones before it was even broadcast, but it AFAIK soon became one of the most popular Jesus films there are, to the point that Robert Powell's face has become for many people the definitive face of Jesus.

My favorite Jesus

As for Willem Dafoe's Jesus...well, let's just say he's the complete opposite of Robert Powell's in every way.

I've seen The Last Temptation of Christ a few times, and I have always liked it. I saw it before I was a practicing Christian, so maybe that's why it didn't offend me? But it could have been because

SPOILER ALERT
























You find out that the scenes toward the end didn't really happen at all. The film was exploring the "what ifs"....what if Christ had given in to the temptation on the cross?

I think it bothered me more that both Jesus and Judas had red hair...
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  #32  
Old Feb 17, '12, 7:34 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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My favorite Jesus

As for Willem Dafoe's Jesus...well, let's just say he's the complete opposite of Robert Powell's in every way.

I've seen The Last Temptation of Christ a few times, and I have always liked it. I saw it before I was a practicing Christian, so maybe that's why it didn't offend me? But it could have been because

SPOILER ALERT
























You find out that the scenes toward the end didn't really happen at all. The film was exploring the "what ifs"....what if Christ had given in to the temptation on the cross?

I think it bothered me more that both Jesus and Judas had red hair...
This is another crucial difference between book and movie: the book is more explicit in implying that the 'last temptation' was just a split-second illusion, while the film notably makes it more ambiguous.

For instance, Kazantzakis himself points out that the last temptation was a mere illusion both in the prologue (as quoted above) and in the final paragraph of the novel. Within the story itself, Satan in the desert explicitly promises to meet with Jesus "this Passover", and Jesus clearly blacks out while shouting "Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani" in mid-sentence; not to mention the temptation sequence in the novel is much more fantastic and surreal, which involves among other things Jesus transforming into Lazarus and Pontius Pilate being crucified!

As for Judas the redbeard, it's another one of the book's little references to Christian tradition and folklore: there was in fact a medieval legend that says Judas was red-haired. (Red hair had a negative connotation in medieval Europe: redheads were seen as morally degenerate, and red hair and green eyes were thought to be the sign of a witch, a werewolf or a vampire. Add to this the fact that red hair was also once considered a stereotypical Jewish trait.)
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  #33  
Old Feb 17, '12, 7:42 pm
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anp1215 anp1215 is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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This is another crucial difference between book and movie: the book is more explicit in implying that the 'last temptation' was just a split-second illusion, while the film notably makes it more ambiguous.

For instance, Kazantzakis himself points out that the last temptation was a mere illusion both in the prologue (as quoted above) and in the final paragraph of the novel. Within the story itself, Satan in the desert explicitly promises to meet with Jesus "this Passover", and Jesus clearly blacks out while shouting "Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani" in mid-sentence; not to mention the temptation sequence in the novel is much more fantastic and surreal, which involves among other things Jesus transforming into Lazarus and Pontius Pilate being crucified!

As for Judas the redbeard, it's another one of the book's little references to Christian tradition and folklore: there was in fact a medieval legend that says Judas was red-haired. (Red hair had a negative connotation in medieval Europe: redheads were seen as morally degenerate, and red hair and green eyes were thought to be the sign of a witch, a werewolf or a vampire. Add to this the fact that red hair was also once considered a stereotypical Jewish trait.)
hmm interesting.
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  #34  
Old Feb 17, '12, 9:49 pm
VeritasLuxMea VeritasLuxMea is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

One thing I will say about it, if I recall correctly it did a great job of portraying Jesus as 100% human.

Most movies portray Jesus as, "Hey, look at me, I'm basically God, if God looked like a dude."

I often wonder if I'm the only one to notice this... I don't feel that any of the other movies there portray Jesus as human at all... (granted, the suffering aspects but that's it.)

It's like the only time Jesus was human was when the Cross came into the picture... what the heck?
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  #35  
Old Feb 17, '12, 10:25 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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One thing I will say about it, if I recall correctly it did a great job of portraying Jesus as 100% human.

Most movies portray Jesus as, "Hey, look at me, I'm basically God, if God looked like a dude."

I often wonder if I'm the only one to notice this... I don't feel that any of the other movies there portray Jesus as human at all... (granted, the suffering aspects but that's it.)

It's like the only time Jesus was human was when the Cross came into the picture... what the heck?
And even then you barely see any real suffering on Jesus' part. Sure there might be the token wound or bruise, but in many of these films you don't get too much of an impression that crucifixion is a horrible way to die.

(For the record, the passion scene is one of the few parts I liked in the movie; yes, it kind of dragged a bit, but the naturalist approach by Scorsese works well here IMHO, giving it a sort of harsh and gritty realism I find lacking in many other Jesus films. I kind of wish Scorsese had just directed a 'normal' Jesus movie - which apparently was his original dream)

How to successfully portray the dual nature of Christ is something that has stumped many filmmakers. Early attempts chose to emphasize Jesus as God: at its extreme it gave us the stoic, robotic Jesus who has a limited set of emotions and who for some reason tends to speak in slow, sonorous Elizabethan English (even if the other characters have more modern dialogue). More recent productions tend to emphasize the humanity of the Savior: taken to the extreme though it results in either a mentally disturbed Jesus (as in this movie) or a perpetually-grinning 'buddy Christ' who always tries to do something 'fun' even at the point of being crass (a number of Jesus films made in the 1990s fall into this).
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  #36  
Old Feb 17, '12, 10:51 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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hmm interesting.
One addition in the film that irked me the most was the one in the end, where the aged and dying Jesus crawls out of His home into the streets of besieged Jerusalem and beseeches God in a prayer of repentance to receive Him back: "I want to be the Messiah!" Kazantzakis' Jesus meanwhile just regains consciousness as soon as the ruse is revealed, and, comforted by the knowledge that everything beforehand was just an illusory dream sent by Satan and that He did not fall into sin, that He was doing what He must, shouts His last words in triumph.

As Mr. Greydanus points out, given the ambiguity of the last temptation in the film, you can either interpret the scene as Jesus waking up from a nightmarish hallucination (as in the novel), or, in a more theologically-problematic interpretation, Jesus really coming down from the cross, falling into temptation, and later being sent back in time by God to resume what He should have done in the first place as a response to His prayer. IMHO, the prayer scene deepened the ambiguity further.

Another 'what the heck?' scene for me is where Jesus apologizes to Mary for "being a bad son" right before being crucified. Where did that come from?
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  #37  
Old Feb 17, '12, 11:40 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

A little something less serious: a question for those who watched the movie. Who here has found it hard to suspend disbelief upon seeing David Bowie as Pontius Pilate?
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  #38  
Old Feb 18, '12, 6:34 am
Tenofovir Tenofovir is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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A little something less serious: a question for those who watched the movie. Who here has found it hard to suspend disbelief upon seeing David Bowie as Pontius Pilate?
Off topic but a little to do with the point above, do try to check out the Russian version of "Master and Margarita". The pontius pilate there is much better.
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  #39  
Old Feb 18, '12, 6:36 am
Tenofovir Tenofovir is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

What do you guys think of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Jesus in The Gospel According to St Matthew?
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058715/
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  #40  
Old Feb 18, '12, 3:42 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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What do you guys think of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Jesus in The Gospel According to St Matthew?
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058715/
Poet-turned-film director Pasolini is a rather infamous figure: he was a Marxist, an atheist and an outspoken homosexual. And he has made some rather controversial films, both before and after filming this one.

But if you ask me, Il Vangelo secondo Matteo is definitely a masterpiece. Pasolini uses only the Gospel itself as his screenplay without any editorial varnish (to the point that viewers unfamiliar with the story might get lost). Some might pick nits on the cheap-looking and very anachronistic costumes (the director deliberately chose NOT to be 'historically accurate', wanting to approach the Gospel in his own terms) - worlds away from the epics Hollywood was producing at the time - but ironically this is in my opinion what makes the film more 'real' than others, along with the decision to shoot the film in black-and-white and to use a cast of non-actors, most of whom have never acted before or since, in true Italian neorealist tradition.

I actually like Pasolini's Jesus. Like a revolutionary He is very passionate, pungent, zealous - literally 'on fire', far removed from the 'meek and mild' Christ of holy cards. Take for example its version of the the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-39).
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  #41  
Old Feb 18, '12, 7:01 pm
spatafizzle spatafizzle is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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Men kissing each other is only controversial and prone to misinterpretation in our modern-day culture, Besides AFAIR the only scene where this happens is during the betrayal of Jesus in Gethsemane, and even then Judas is the one who initiates it. If that is problematic, I could name a few other Jesus films which should be in problem as well. And "Jehovah", the novel (in the translation) actually uses it quite a number of times, but this in itself of course isn't inoffensive.

As Jesus being tormented by the voice of God and making crosses for the Romans: this is part of the work's theme, and yes, this is one of the more problematic (from an orthodox POV) parts. For Kazantzakis, Jesus, being both God and man, would have had His humanity - weak as human nature is - clash often with His divinity: a battle between desire ("what I want to do") and duty ("what I must do"), between the willing spirit and the weak flesh.

Kazantzakis makes reference to the battle between flesh and spirit in the prologue:
THE DUAL SUBSTANCE of Christ—the yearning, so human, so superhuman, of man to attain to God or, more exactly, to return to God and identify himself with him—has always been a deep inscrutable mystery to me. This nostalgia for God, at once so mysterious and so real, has opened in me large wounds and also large flowing springs.
My principal anguish and the source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh.
Within me are the dark immemorial forces of the Evil One, human and prehuman; within me too are the luminous forces, human and pre-human, of God—and my soul is the arena where these two armies have clashed and met.
The anguish has been intense. I loved my body and did not want it to perish; I loved my soul and did not want it to decay. I have fought to reconcile these two primordial forces which are so contrary to each other, to make them realize that they are not enemies but, rather, fellow workers, so that they might rejoice in their harmony—and so that I might rejoice with them.

Every man partakes of the divine nature in both his spirit and his flesh. That is why the mystery of Christ is not simply a mystery for a particular creed: it is universal. The struggle between God and man breaks out in everyone, together with the longing for reconciliation. Most often this struggle is unconscious and short-lived.
A weak soul does not have the endurance to resist the flesh for very long. It grows heavy, becomes flesh itself, and the contest ends. But among responsible men, men who keep their eyes riveted day and night upon the Supreme Duty, the conflict between flesh and spirit breaks out mercilessly and may last until death.
The stronger the soul and the flesh, the more fruitful the struggle and the richer the final harmony. God does not love weak souls and flabby flesh. The Spirit wants to have to wrestle with flesh which is strong and full of resistance. It is a carnivorous bird which is incessantly hungry; it eats flesh and, by assimilating it, makes it disappear.
Struggle between the flesh and the spirit, rebellion and resistance, reconciliation and submission, and finally—the supreme purpose of the struggle—union with God: this was the ascent taken by Christ, the ascent which he invites us to take as well, following in his bloody tracks.
This is the Supreme Duty of the man who struggles—to set out for the lofty peak which Christ, the first-born son of salvation, attained. How can we begin?
If we are to be able to follow him we must have a profound knowledge of his conflict, we must relive his anguish: his victory over the blossoming snares of the earth, his sacrifice of the great and small joys of men and his ascent from sacrifice to sacrifice, exploit to exploit, to martyrdom’s summit, the Cross.
In the novel (and the film), Jesus is the Messiah and apparently knows what He is supposed to do, but at first He wants to run away from His destiny: the novel pointedly mentions that fear is the only demon left for Jesus to struggle with before His time is come. To this end, He tries to collaborate with the Romans by making crosses for them, thinking that by doing so God would somehow leave Him alone to lead a normal life.
I notice you didn't mention the whole "sex with Mary Magdalene" thing...

Awful, blasphemous movie.
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  #42  
Old Feb 18, '12, 7:06 pm
spatafizzle spatafizzle is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

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Has anyone seen a movie where William Dafoe plays Jesus called the last temptation of Christ? Is it any good? I think I may have heard it's a bad movie but I don't know.
It's an awful, blasphemous film. A desecration of the gospels. Avoid it.
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  #43  
Old Feb 18, '12, 7:20 pm
Raskolnikov Raskolnikov is offline
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Default Re: the last temptation of Christ

I saw it. I recall thinking it was pretty strange. Yes, strange would be the word I would use to describe it.

In some ways, "Jesus of Nazareth" is in my mind the definitive film about Jesus, and most other depictions don't seem to live up to it, if only because when I see that Robert Powell isn't Jesus, it feels like when I watched the first James Bond movie with Daniel Craig. My whole life, Pierce Brosnan was Bond. Craig just struck me as an imposter. Daniel Craig's James Bond has grown on me however. Willem Dafoe has not.
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  #44  
Old Feb 18, '12, 11:09 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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I notice you didn't mention the whole "sex with Mary Magdalene" thing...

Awful, blasphemous movie.
And now I shall.

I agree that the whole sex scene in the film is just in bad taste.

What Kazantzakis implies indirectly in about a sentence, Scorsese drags out into about somewhere between two to three minutes. Can I have brain bleach?
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  #45  
Old Feb 18, '12, 11:19 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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I saw it. I recall thinking it was pretty strange. Yes, strange would be the word I would use to describe it.
Yep. There's this (original to the film) scene where Jesus digs into His chest and takes still-beating His heart out a la the Sacred Heart. That's probably one of the most bizarre scenes in the film in my idea, right up there with the epileptic Pentecostal disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus being crowded by a group of demoniacs like a bunch of zombies in a video game.
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