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The Core Curriculum

The Last Temptation of Christ, dir. by Martin Scorsese, 1988

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Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ, (adapted from Nikos Kazantzakis’s controversial novel of the same name) tells the story of the life of Jesus, emphasizing his temptations, doubts, and desires. The movie, acknowledging its departure from the narrative of the Gospels, portrays Jesus (played by Willem Dafoe) as an ally of the Romans, who in betraying his fellow Jews earns him scorn of the anti-Roman Jewish revolutionaries. Over time, however, the Romans begin to perceive Jesus as a threat to their empire and he is sentenced to die by crucifixion. In a remarkable twist, Jesus is rescued from the cross by an angel, which enables him to return to his great love, Mary Magdalene. After Mary dies suddenly, Jesus is told that he is to start a family with Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha. 

The video above is a scene in which Jesus first encounters the apostle Paul (played by Harry Dean Stanton), scolding him for lying about his death and resurrection. Paul wryly explains that Jesus is not ultimately the arbiter of his life as the messiah.