Last week at Christianity Today Movies, we published a piece on the controversial Martin Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ, which turns twenty-five this year. Critic Ken Morefield went back to the film, wondering if it was any good, and if it was worthy of the controversy. What he found was surprising:
It’s fascinating to listen to the commentary track on the film’s Criterion Collection DVD, released in 2000. Made with a $7 million budget for Universal Studios after Paramount gave up the picture, the film begins with a written disclaimer that it is not based on the Gospels but is a “fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict” which, it says, is the clash of “spirit” and “flesh” that grows out of the “yearning of man to attain God.”
On the DVD commentary, screenwriter Paul Schrader—one of Calvin College’s more controversial graduates—admits that this use of Jesus as a metaphor is “technically” blasphemous. But he claims that the critics of the film never made a sophisticated critique. Instead, they were enraged by just one thing: that the movie showed sexual contact between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This is the greatest of the temptations that Jesus overcomes by choosing to remain on the cross and be crucified.
Read the whole piece here. Did you see Last Temptation when it first came out, or since then? What did you think?