Lamont Cranston wrote:
mido505, does Scorsese have that kind of money? I've heard he's had his battles with the studios. The studio demanded a commerical film be made next in his contract for The Last Temptation of Christ, this of course resulted in the remake of Cape Fear. And his last three films, all commerical, seem like he's trying to build up clout and money for something big later.
Lamont, they are ALWAYS "trying to build up clout and money for something big later". But why does it have to be "something big"? Answer: it doesn't, this is just an excuse. Big budget razzle dazzle to cover a lack of true vision. As for the Scorsese's battles over Last Temptation, he managed to take a fascinating if unorthodox novel and completely degrade it. Take away the Peter Gabriel soundtrack and Last Temptation is nothing. I probably shouldn't do this but I am going to quote in its entirety the best single review I have ever read of Last Temptation. It's off IMDB, the author is Majikstl, and I highly recommend his insightful, extremely opinionated reviews:
"THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST features a character who is warm, gentle, soft-spoken and wise. Unfortunately, that character, played by rock icon David Bowie, is Pontius Pilate, the man who condemns Jesus to death on the cross. Jesus, on the other hand, is played -- rather badly -- by Willem Dafoe as a whiny, self-absorbed, neurotic, bumbling, somewhat stupid, amazingly uninspired, and occasionally hysterical twit.
Martin Scorsese's fictionalized -- as if that is a good thing -- retelling of Christ's story is offensive on so many levels that you don't have to be a Christian or even a believer in any faith to be dumbfounded by the sheer ineptitude of the entire project. When Scorsese begins the story with Christ the carpenter busy in his shop using his skills to build a cross which will be used to crucify a fellow Jew, the story has nowhere to go but up. Amazingly, it doesn't: the next scene finds Jesus tagging along to lend a helping hand as the Romans carry out the execution. Here is the story of the Prince of Peace, a man worshiped and adored for his belief in nonviolence, forgiveness and human kindness, and the film begins with him helping to commit a state sanctioned killing. One would assume that the filmmaker has a pronounced hatred of Jesus and of Christianity.
This presumably is not the case. Benefit of the doubt dictates that Scorsese is genuinely trying to create a sympathetic vision of Jesus. Thus, Scorsese wants us to see Jesus as human, but it is his concept of humanity that the director presents. Being human in Scorsese's eyes is being Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta, one of the savage beasts in GOODFELLAS or any number of psychotic losers that populate his films. The notion that God sent forth his only son to be an example of the best that mankind should strive for fits nowhere into Scorsese bleak and sorrowful mindset. The fact that Scorsese sees the world through such a cloud of contempt is pitiable. The fact that feels the need to vandalize the story of Christ with such a blatant hatefulness is less worthy of forgiveness.
Using Paul Schrader's woefully insipid screenplay, Scorsese's film, more or less, follows the standard Gospels, up until a fantasy ending that supposedly justifies the entire film. So it's not the story, it's the telling. Jesus tells a parable about hope and faith and he handles it so badly that his listeners want to riot and kill the rich. He disowns his mother and leaves her crying in the street. Simple questions about faith leave him stammering and dumbfounded. There is not a moment in the film that gives Jesus a chance to show kindness, wisdom, love, charisma or even a shred of dignity. The only element of the film that does work is the climatic dream sequence wherein Jesus imagines what life would be like if he renounced his divinity and lived as an average man. Ironically, once the presence of God is removed form Jesus, the film allows him to actually have genuine positive human qualities.
Brushing aside -- as if were possible -- the utter ignorance THE LAST TEMPTATION shows of the Gospels, the film still fails. Aside from Bowie's credible cameo appearance, the actors flounder, either resorting to horribly stilted line readings or else sounding like blue collar workers arguing at the local tavern. Dafoe, however, stands alone: playing Jesus like an escaped mental patient, the otherwise competent actor seems to have had not a clue as to who Jesus was and apparently he got precious little guidance from Scorsese. Even Scorsese's admitted technical prowess fails him here; the film is cheap, clumsy and unpleasant to look at.
Is the film sacrilege? That is a judgment for others to make. What it is is insensitive. It callously shows contempt for a figure who is revered, not only in Christian faiths, but in Jewish and Muslim faiths as well. To present such a degraded image of Christ, even within a "fictionalized" or "what-if" scenario, doesn't excuse the filmmakers from their responsibility to show respect, if not honesty, to the historical, if not religious, importance of the Christ. To hide behind the concept of "fictionalization" is a cowardly cop-out.
This is a cold, hateful and mean-spirited film. The irony is that the Scorsese and his team probably thought they were making a film with great inspirational insight. Forgive them, for they know not what they do."