70 The Last Temptation of Christ

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Martha
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70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:01 pm

The Last Temptation of Christ

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The Last Temptation of Christ, by Martin Scorsese, is a towering achievement. Though it initially engendered enormous controversy, the film can now be viewed as the remarkable, profoundly personal work of faith that it is. This fifteen-year labor of love, an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’s landmark novel that imagines an alternate fate for Jesus Christ, features outstanding performances by Willem Dafoe, Barbara Hershey, Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton, and David Bowie; bold cinematography by the great Michael Ballhaus; and a transcendent score by Peter Gabriel.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION:

- Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack by supervising sound editor Skip Lievsay
- Audio commentary featuring director Martin Scorsese, actor Willem Dafoe, and writers Paul Schrader and Jay Cocks
- Galleries of production stills, research materials, and costume designs
- Location production footage shot by Scorsese
- Interview with composer Peter Gabriel, with a stills gallery of traditional instruments used in the score
- PLUS: An essay by film critic David Ehrenstein

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Andre Jurieu
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#2 Post by Andre Jurieu » Mon Jun 27, 2005 11:58 pm

Willem Dafoe, as Jesus... I found his performance to be quite superior to Jim Caviezal in Passion Of The Christ, but the two shouldn't even be compared, these are two wildly different film takes on the subject of Jesus, God and religion.
So here's my smartass comment. How exactly are we supposed to establish that these two films are two wildly different film takes on the subject of Jesus, God, and religion, if we are not even supposed to compare them to one another?

It's days like this that I miss Jaime's post for his essay on Last Temptation. Anyone got it kicking around on their hard drive? Godot? ben?

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bunuelian
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#3 Post by bunuelian » Tue Jun 28, 2005 12:20 am

In high school I was fascinated by Kazantzakis and read several of his books. Last Temptation wasn't my favorite, but it was certainly a great read and a fascinating "alternative" telling of the story. I highly recommend his work.

The film suffers for me because I've read the book and had a relationship with it that the film can't approach. Although I loved aspects of the film, especially Peter Gabriel's music and a number of striking scenes, it just didn't hit me the way the book did. It's an extremely difficult thing turning a powerful book into an equally powerful film.

It's interesting that Bunuel, the director with whom I'm most familiar, more often chose to make films of books that he thought were marginal (Belle de Jour) because of their potential alone.

The "Catholics"* had so much trouble with the book that the pope placed it on the Roman Catholic Index of Forbidden Books. At the time, Kazantzakis was also suffering from a terrible lymphatic disease which resulted in the loss of one of his eyes, among other things. No doubt a lot of righteous Catholics took this as a sign that this great philosopher and lover of humanity was being tortured by God for his blasphemy. His response: "You gave me your curse, holy Fathers. I give you a blessing: May your conscience be as clear as mine, and may you be as moral and religious as I am."

Unfortunately, Scorsese's work doesn't approach the level that his Greek partner reached with his novel, but I doubt Nikos would have disapproved of the effort. In fact, I think he would have smiled.

*I put Catholics in quotes because it's quite obvious that not everyone who identifies themselves as Catholic adopts the actions of the Pope as their own, and today Kazanzakis is even taught in some Catholic high school classes. A course at my high school (a Catholic one, though I'm not a Catholic) studied him in considerable depth for a high school course, and for an author so reviled by the church in his time. Given the church's unfortunate history of supporting fascist regimes in the period, it's probably unfair to attribute the actions of the pope in 1951 with anything Catholic today. The attitudes of the Evangelicals toward the film upon its release are an entirely different matter.

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Godot
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#4 Post by Godot » Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:26 pm

Andre wrote:...I miss Jaime's post for his essay on Last Temptation. Anyone got it kicking around on their hard drive? Godot?
Unfortunately, I was not alert enough to copy this on the old forum (was that two forums ago?). I think it's still one of the funniest, craziest posts I've read, comparing LToC to King of Comedy, with wonderful comments on Lewis. I wonder what grade he received for it? I think I forwarded it (hopefully, not just the link) to some friends, so I'll check old e-mails.

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#5 Post by kazantzakis » Tue Jun 28, 2005 8:02 pm

The Greek Orthodox church treated Kazantzakis much worse than the Catholics did, forbidding for some time his burrial in his hometown in Crete. Even today, church luminaries and their goons attack the author on anything they can find: from his international career to his fascination with communist doctrines in the 1920s, his messianic searches , his love for Nietszche and even his rumored homosexuality.
While "Temptation" is my favorite book of his, Kakoyiannis' "Zorba" is a better adaptation than Scorsese's film (as far as Kazantzakis' books go). The author deserves to be better known but suffers from the syndrome of small places.

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colinr0380
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#6 Post by colinr0380 » Sat May 26, 2007 1:48 pm


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jbeall
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#7 Post by jbeall » Sat May 26, 2007 10:06 pm

kazantzakis wrote:While "Temptation" is my favorite book of his, Kakoyiannis' "Zorba" is a better adaptation than Scorsese's film (as far as Kazantzakis' books go). The author deserves to be better known but suffers from the syndrome of small places.
Really? I love both novels, and like the film version of Zorba a lot, but for my money The Last Temptation... is the superior film. Although I'm a committed agnostic, watching it made me want to be Christian more than any other experience I've had. I thought it was very well done, and the interaction between a hybrid author/philosopher (it'd be hard to pin a single religious worldview on Kazantzakis, immersed as he was in multiple traditions and even Bergsonian philosophy), a Roman Catholic director, and a Dutch Calvinist screenwriter makes for a truly towering work of faith.

Plus, I think Harvey Keitel nails the role of Judas.

Greathinker

#8 Post by Greathinker » Tue May 29, 2007 4:56 pm

Anyone own the R2 Universal release? I wonder how the transfer compares.

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malcolm1980
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#9 Post by malcolm1980 » Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:33 am

Is this disc out-of-print? Just asking.

And are there better versions out there?

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#10 Post by kaujot » Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:20 am

Added to Roger Ebert's Great Movies.

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kinjitsu
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#11 Post by kinjitsu » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:14 pm

In the current Cineaste: A review of Thomas R. Lindlof's book, Hollywood Under Siege: Martin Scorsese, the Religious Right, and the Culture Wars.

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sevenarts
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#12 Post by sevenarts » Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:58 am

Jason Bellamy and I have a new conversation up at Slant, talking about both The Last Temptation of Christ and The Passion of the Christ. To help everyone get in that Easter spirit...

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captveg
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#13 Post by captveg » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:08 pm

sevenarts wrote:Jason Bellamy and I have a new conversation up at Slant, talking about both The Last Temptation of Christ and The Passion of the Christ. To help everyone get in that Easter spirit...
Wonderful article. Thanks.

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dad1153
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#14 Post by dad1153 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:35 pm


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dx23
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#15 Post by dx23 » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:11 am

Weirdest thing is that Universal is releasing a DVD version themselves the week before.

greggster59
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#16 Post by greggster59 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:59 pm

Blu-rayDefinition: Going by the screen captures it looks like an upconverted version of the prior Criterion release. The dark scenes show what looks like video noise, not film grain. Of course, it could just be the capture and not the transfer.

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kinjitsu
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#17 Post by kinjitsu » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:34 am


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The Narrator Returns
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#18 Post by The Narrator Returns » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:29 pm

Hmm, the screen captures don't look very impressive. Is this really the best it can look?

eerik
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#19 Post by eerik » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:10 pm

The Narrator Returns wrote:Hmm, the screen captures don't look very impressive. Is this really the best it can look?
No, it's just typical Criterion Blu-ray "upgrade", i.e. it comes from a ten year old master that was created for standard definition DVD and not for HD release.

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movielocke
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#20 Post by movielocke » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:55 pm

Criterion would have to make a new master--or receive a new master tape from the studio--because their old one would not have been adequate for HD.

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CSM126
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#21 Post by CSM126 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:10 pm

Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if Uni's forthcoming centennial blu of this movie is the exact same master (probably degrained, though). Criterion is at the mercy of the studio sometimes.

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mfunk9786
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#22 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:21 pm

eerik wrote:
The Narrator Returns wrote:Hmm, the screen captures don't look very impressive. Is this really the best it can look?
No, it's just typical Criterion Blu-ray "upgrade", i.e. it comes from a ten year old master that was created for standard definition DVD and not for HD release.
You can't be serious.

eerik
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#23 Post by eerik » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:27 am

movielocke wrote:Criterion would have to make a new master--or receive a new master tape from the studio--because their old one would not have been adequate for HD.
Criterion's Traffic, Fear and Loathing Blu-rays used old Universal masters. For Dazed and Confused they used their own old master.

Let's face it, Criterion upgrades titles that are their top sellers, not titles which they have good looking masters for.

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The Narrator Returns
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#24 Post by The Narrator Returns » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:16 am

Fat Girl would like to have a word with you.

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knives
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Re: 70 The Last Temptation of Christ

#25 Post by knives » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:32 pm

How do you know that's not a high seller> That's the only Criterion one of my sisters owns for instance and she's certainly not part of the cinephilic niche.

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