Monday, 19 October 2009

the last temptation of christ

only god knows why this caused so much controversy. i mean, forgetting the massively obvious disclaimer at the beginning that sets out what the director intended to do with the film: that it was an experiment, an idea, and absolutely not intended as blasphemy or the discreditation of anyone's faith. it was in huge white letters on a black background for all to read at the beginning. if you missed it, you are some kind of fool. and if you blindly follow the band wagon you'll miss out on a really exciting and interesting theological investigation into the kind of man jesus was.

in some ways i think this is far more realistic than most other representations of the human who was jesus. most other interpretations make his life comparatively easy. bearing in mind he was a man who had been called to single-handedly change the way the world thought and then get painfully betrayed and executed, you'd think it would be a struggle a lot of the time. yes, mel gibson's "passion" pulled no punches with the torture scene, but i've not seen as much of an investigation into jesus' psyche as you get with "temptation." go on, think about the level of psychological and emotional conflict the J-man had to go through. he was a man of flesh faced with all the aspects of a tough world at a tough time. people were desperate, poor, diseased, oppressed. how about a bit of sympathy to the probability he was tempted off course now and then, eh? i mean, why don't you try the equivalent... walk into israel and single-handedly change the minds of two nations and bring peace, in the full knowledge your thanks will include one of your best friends betraying you to the authorities for £20, and getting slowly tortured to death.

yuh, he probably had some off days.

speaking of judas, i really liked how he was portrayed in this. i've always thought he gets a pretty bad rap. i don't think it was a piece of cake to realise that you'd been put on the earth for the purpose of initiating the murder of one of your best friends and the man you respected most in the world. to paint him as a man who was more committed to the cause than anyone else makes more sense to me. to find that level of dedication to the greater good, that you summon the will to instigate the death of someone you love requires someone of inordinate strength, not sickly weakness.

this film is clever, powerful and thought-provoking. it realises a more believable version of the lamb led to slaughter, not an offensive one.

admittedly it does go a bit weird towards the end, and disobeys one of the first rules of good story telling. but if we didn't experiment we wouldn't learn anything, would we?


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