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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Apr 19, 2011

The Last Temptation of Christ

This Martin Scorcese film based on the Nikos Kazantsakis novel became controversial when shown in 1988 as it shows a very human Jesus (Willem Dafoe) who grapples with personal issues about his being the Messiah. For instance, Jesus blames himself that his childhood friend, Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey), became a prostitute while he was away and thinks she wouldn’t so if he married her. His friend Judas (Harvey Keitel) urges him to go into politics to lead a revolt against their Roman conquerors. He gets purified and discerns his real purpose after he goes to the desert to meditate. From there, he’s baptized by John the Baptist, gives the Sermon on the Mount, resurrects Lazarus, betrayed by Judas and is crucified on the cross where he faces his last temptation.

An angel appears and says he need not suffer anymore so Jesus leaves the cross and marries Mary Magdalene. It was only later in life that Judas tells him that the angel was actually the devil in disguise and he has forsaken God’s mission for him. Jesus then must choose to be the Savior or just die as a man. It’s understandable for fundamentalists to judge the film strongly as it deviates from what we have accepted about Jesus all these years, especially the hallucinatory scene of Jesus in a love scene with Magdalene. But one should look at the film as a metaphor for the spiritual and moral struggles that people like us go through in our search for deeper, more personal faith. If you’re not ready to watch with an open mind, then just don’t watch it at all.
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