Homework Help

How are characters, other than Jesus, portrayed in the film "The Last Temptation of...

user profile pic

lovestinks | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:17 PM via web

dislike 2 like

How are characters, other than Jesus, portrayed in the film "The Last Temptation of Christ" by Martin Scorsese?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:30 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

Martin Scorsese's adaptation of "The Last Temptation of Christ" is based on the book by the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis. It does not portray Jesus accurately according to the Bible, so it is not surprising to discover that the other characters in the film are not accurately portrayed according to scripture.

Mary and Joseph are Jesus's earthly parents, and we know very little about them from the Bible. We know they were engaged, had to deal with an immaculate conception, got married, and had Jesus, their first child. After that, we do not meet them again until Jesus is twelve and teaching in the temple, and, in at least one of the Gospels, Mary is at the foot of the cross. When his family loses Jesus. they have to go back and find him, and everyone in the temple knows he is the son of the carpenter of Nazareth (Matthew 13).

In this movie, Joseph is helplessly disabled, and that is not in any way depicted in the Bible. Mary is depicted as a rather shrewish mother who would rather have an earthly son and grandchildren than the Son of God. These are wholesale fabrications which are not in alignment with the little we do know about Jesus's parents. 

Judas is probably the most egregious example of a character in this move who is not portrayed according to what is found in scripture. In this film, Judas treats Jesus with great disrespect. While we are not privy to many conversations between Judas and Jesus in the Bible, we do know that he was a follower, a disciple, and assume he would not have been blatantly disrespectful to his teacher. 

Note this exchange between Jesus and Judas in which Peter tries to scold Judas.

Peter: Don't you have any respect?

Judas: For him?

Jesus: [feebly] You don't understand...

Judas: Understand?... You broke my heart. Sometimes I curse the day I ever met you! We held the world in our hands. Remember what you told me? You took me in your arms, do you remember? And you begged me, "Betray me, betray me, I have to be crucified...."

In this exchange, Peter and Jesus look weak while Judas appears strong. This is a ridiculous notion, as Peter is the foundation, the rock, on which the church is built after Jesus's death (Matthew 16:18). Jesus did not beg Judas or anyone else to betray him, nor did he need Judas to help him get to the cross, as the movie declares.

In the movie, Saul should rightly be called Paul after his encounter with God on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), another denial of the transformative power of God in the lives of man. 

Almost as bad as the flawed or outright fictional accounts of characters who can actually be found in the Bible are the characters which have been added to the film. Angels, women, and other rather ridiculous creatures all appear, many times in the odd dreams/visions this fictional Jesus has in the movie.

It is important for anyone who watches this movie to understand that this is one man's (Scorsese's) interpretation of one man's (Kazantzakis's) interpretation of the Bible. No film such as this is likely to be considered accurate by everyone, given the subject matter; however, this movie blatantly disregards the Bible both in detail and, it seems to me, in doctrine.  

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes