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The Last Temptation of Christ

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Canada, United States · 1988
Rated R · 2h 44m
Director Martin Scorsese
Starring Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton
Genre Drama

Jesus, a humble Judean carpenter beginning to see that he is the son of God, is drawn into revolutionary action against the Roman occupiers by Judas -- despite his protestations that love, not violence, is the path to salvation. The burden of being the savior of mankind torments Jesus throughout his life, leading him to doubt. As he is put to death on the cross, Jesus is tempted by visions of an ordinary life married to Mary Magdalene.

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What are critics saying?


Washington Post by

Temptation is visually and aurally stupendous. But the most obvious strength in this commendably bold project is Willem Dafoe's performance as Jesus.


Salon by Andrew O'Hehir

It's a lovely, measured and deeply earnest work. It balances a realistic view of first century Palestine against a sincere consideration of how an ordinary man might learn he is divine.


Chicago Tribune by Gene Siskel

Dafoe manages to draw us into the mystery, anguish and joy of the holy life. This is anything but another one of those boring biblical costume epics. There is genuine challenge and hope in this movie. [12 Aug 1988, p.A]


Washington Post by Hal Hinson

The Last Temptation of Christ, Martin Scorsese's provocative, punishing, weirdly brilliant adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel, has a feverish intensity. And undeniably, there's a prodigious greatness on display here. But just as undeniably, it is failed work.


The New York Times by Janet Maslin

despite such maladroit moments, The Last Temptation of Christ finally exerts enormous power. What emerges most memorably is its sense of absolute conviction, never more palpable than in the final fantasy sequence that removes Jesus from the cross and creates for him the life of an ordinary man.


Boston Globe by Jay Carr

It could have been shorter, some of its exchanges misfire, but I respect The Last Temptation of Christ, and I'm much more for it than against it. It's the most spiritual biblical movie of our times. [2 Sep 1988, p.25]


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

Here is a film that engaged me on the subject of Christ's dual nature, that caused me to think about the mystery of a being who could be both God and man. I cannot think of another film on a religious subject that has challenged me more fully. The film has offended those whose ideas about God and man it does not reflect. But then, so did Jesus.


Los Angeles Times by Sheila Benson

It would seem impossible that anyone looking into the heart and the clear intent of the film would fail to see Scorsese's passion for his subject. And if our world is becoming so dangerously constricted that we're forbidden even to look, that is something we should all worry about. [12 Aug 1988, p.1]

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