The Last Temptation Of Christ

A 1988 adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’s controversial novel. Neither the best nor the worst of Martin Scorsese’s films, but possibly the most ambitious, it more or less inverts the principles of his religiously informed New York films by being a religious film informed by some of the cadences, intonations, and attitudes of New York. The efforts to plant this story in a contemporary vernacular are not always successful but the performances are uniformly fine in their adherence to the material, and consistently avoid any vulgarity or showboating. Concentrating on the humanity and fallibility of Jesus in continual conflict with his divinity, the film falters as a contemporary statement mainly in its primitive view of women, who are allowed to signify nothing beyond sexual temptation and maternity. Filmed in Marrakech; with Willem Dafoe (as Jesus), Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Verna Bloom, Andre Gregory, Randy Danson, David Bowie, Barry Miller, and Harry Dean Stanton. Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay. R, 163 min. (JR)

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