Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

In Martin Scorsese's unorthodox and profound film - adapted from the novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis:

  • the scene of Nazarene Jesus Christ's (Willem Dafoe) angry outburst at the moneychangers in the temple and his confrontation with the rabbis-priests: ("This is my Father's house! It's a place of worship, not a market!...God doesn't need a palace. He doesn't need cypress trees or dead animals! He doesn't need shekles!"), and then his anger at one of the rabbis: "I'm throwing away the law. I have a new law and a new hope....How can I presume? Because I'm the end of the old law and the beginning of the new one....When I say 'I' Rabbi, I'm saying 'God.'...Didn't they tell you? I'm the saint of blasphemy. Don't make any mistakes, I didn't come here to bring peace, I came to bring a sword!...Me killed? Listen to me. This temple will be destroyed in three days, torn down to the ground! There won't be one stone left to build with! You think God belongs only to you? He doesn't. God's an immortal spirit who belongs to everybody - to the whole world! You think you're special? God is not an Israelite!"
  • the pre-crucifixion scene of Jesus' appearance before Pilate, his beating/scourging and placement of a crown of thorns on his head, and his lengthy, slow-motion walk through Jerusalem's streets and mocking crowds to Golgotha
  • the moment when the cross was raised into an upright position (with the camera mounted upon it)
The Crucifixion Sequence
  • and then the moment that Jesus, naked and hanging on the cross during crucifixion, cried out as the camera turned sideways: "Father! Why have You forsaken me?"
  • the controversial "last temptation" visionary sequence in which Jesus was tempted by Satan (portrayed as a young androgynous guardian angel (Juliette Caton)); his crown of thorns was removed, as well as the spikes through his feet and wrists; he was given life and led away from an empty cross while he asked doubtfully: "I don't have to be sacrificed?...I'm not the Messiah"; onlookers at Golgotha didn't seem to notice his departure
  • the sequence in which Jesus was provided with visions of a "normal" earthly life, including the blasphemous idea (his "last temptation") of a sexual relationship with a woman - with tattooed Jewish prostitute Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey); he was immediately married to her - he was earlier seen entertaining various clients in a brothel where Jesus had spoken with her and asked her for forgiveness. [She offered herself to him: "Here's my body. Save it. Save it," but he declined to be enticed by her before leaving for the desert.] Now married to him, she cleansed his bloody wounds as he laid naked in her arms, and then, in a non-exploitative sequence, Jesus made tender, physical love with her as she entreated: "We could have a child"
Sexual Relationship with Mary Magdalene
- Resulting in Pregnancy
  • ultimately, however, after discussions with the apostle Paul (Harry Dean Stanton) ("Their only hope is the resurrected Jesus!...You see, you don't know how much people need God. You don't know how happy he can make them. He can make them happy to do anything. He can make them happy to die and they'll die. All for the sake of Christ. Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth. The Son of God. The Messiah. Not you. Not for your sake. You know, I'm glad I met you. Because now I can forget all about you. My Jesus is much more important and much more powerful"), and another intervention with Judas Iscariot (Harvey Keitel), Jesus returned to the cross to suffer for humanity's sake - the temptation was ultimately rejected by Jesus -- with his triumphant dying words: "It is accomplished"

Jesus' Angry Blasphemous Outburst at the Moneychangers in the Temple and Rabbis

Placement of Crown of Thorns

Visionary Sequence During Crucifixion: Jesus Was Tempted by Guardian Angel

Tattooed Prostitute
Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey)

Apostle Paul to Jesus: "Their only hope is the resurrected Jesus"


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