The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Seen in light of the position of Jesus in modern religion and culture in the western world, the attraction of Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel lies in the controversy and psychological interpretation of Jesus from Nazareth and his vocation; how could this man be both a deity and a human being? Willem Dafoe gives a wholehearted effort of embodying the legendary figure. Not surprisingly, it is not something the talented young character actor is quite able to overcome satisfactorily. Like much of Scorsese's film, his performance is theatrical and rooted in a tradition of stylistic biblical representations in which the human aspect of the characterization is absent or greatly undermined.
Paradoxically, this is exactly what Scorsese wants to accomplish with The Last Temptation of Christ - to reveal and explore Jesus' inner struggles as a human being. To the degree that this is accomplished, it is in a very fixed frame with a very conditional scaffolding – the Jesus character remains a figure to understand, not to sympathize with. Despite fine observations and well-presented scenarios in which religion, history and psychology clash in an interesting crucible, The Last Temptation of Christ is a vague, tiresome and overly allegorical depiction of one of the planet's best known stories. And the alleged controversial end scenario, from which the film derives its title, is only so for the most fanatical Christians. Peter Gabriel did the musical score, which consists of delicate rhythms and contemporary synthetic sounds.