For today’s 365 Movies In 365 Days challenge film, I wanted to choose a film that the late, great David Bowie (Labyrinth) starred in that I had not seen yet to help celebrate his legacy. I stumbled upon the Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) directed 1988 film The Last Temptation Of Christ which stars Willem Dafoe (Platoon) as Jesus Christ in this fictional take on his life and the teachings of the bible. The film was based off of a book that was written by Nikos Kazantzakis that explores all the trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ as he journeys through life wondering what his purpose is, what exactly does God want from him, and his last temptation while on the cross. The film also stars Harvey Keitel (From Dusk Till Dawn) as Judas, Barbara Hershey (Falling Down) as Mary Magdalene, Steve Shill (Dexter) as Centurian, Verna Bloom (Animal House) as Mary, Roberts Blossom (Home Alone) as Aged Master, Barry Miller (Saturday Night Fever) as Jeroboam, Gary Basaraba (The Smurfs) as Andrew, Apostle, Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back) as Zebedee, Victor Argo (Taxi Driver) as Peter, Apostle, Paul Herman (American Hustle) as Phillip, David Bowie as Pontius Pilot, and Andre Gregory (Demolition Man) as John The Baptist.
This must have been one of the ballsiest films to come out in 1988 and it must have insulted Christians everywhere at the time. I an only imagine seeing images of Jesus not knowing what he is talking about and saying that if I just open my mouth God will speak for me. One sequence that must have pissed off Christians everywhere is the idea that a guardian angel comes down and saves him from the cross and he goes on to live a long life with a wife and children until the rude awakening comes. I am not the biggest Willem Dafoe fan in the world, but I give the man props for have the guts to do the film and for his performance. What the film does for people is that it dumbs down the bible so that everyone can get it. It shows you that he was human after all and he went through the same emotions that we did. They keep a lot of the historical information in the film, but they twist it around a little bit. One scene that I thought was powerful was during the last temptation when Jesus confronts a man preaching about him and his death even though he is alive. Jesus tells him to stop the lies, but the man (played by Harry Dean Stanton) tells him that he refuses to stop because his version of Jesus dying on the cross is a lot better and people will believe that story to give them hope than to know that he was still alive. When I saw that scene, I was shocked and could only think of the word wow. If you can look past that the film is almost three hours long, that they say it’s fiction right from the start, then you should be able to enjoy this great piece of art. I am giving the film an A- for a final grade because the cinematography is great, the sets were amazing, and the soundtrack was very good as well.