Last Temptation of Christ

April 30, 2012

Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ provides the audience with one of the most humanistic approaches to Jesus on film.  This is due to many factors, including the noticeable exclusion of famous bible passages such as “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  However, it isn’t just relatable, unfamiliar dialogue that brings Willem Dafoe’s Jesus to a relatable level on par with those of us that watch the film.  Nor is it the emphasis on the idea that God has possessed Jesus, which is meant to strongly show the audience that Jesus was a man before the presence of God forcibly took control of him.  What makes this Jesus so compelling, and ultimately human, are his mistakes.

 

The familiar and even cliché quote, “To ere is human; to forgive, divine” comes to mind when watching the controversial flick.  For me, this is primarily due to the fact that Dafoe as Jesus certainly personifies the first half of the statement.  He makes plenty of mistakes as God intervenes in his life and prepares him for his role in life.  He struggles with his inability to fully comprehend the situation he is in, and like any other human being, makes a misstep here and there until he finally reaches his destination on the cross.

One major mistake can be seen when Judas threatens to kill Jesus for being complicit in the Roman domination of the Jews.  Jesus is willing to accept his own murder due to the stress of his predicament, and even tells Judas to go through with the murder as the knife is pressed against his throat.  Once Judas allows him to live and joins him on his mission, Jesus corrects this misjudgment on his own life and perseveres through the trials of his existence.  By not pushing aside his duty and trudging onward, he steps back onto the path he had previously strayed.

The final mistake Jesus makes is perhaps the greatest one presented in the film.  When on the cross, Satan offers the life that Jesus wanted instead of the agony and suffering of crucifixion.  And because Jesus is not aware of Satan’s trickery, he seems at peace and able to go along with the idea.  This leads to the disaster seen at the film’s climax, with Jesus recognizing his error, and ultimately correcting that action with the ultimate sacrifice and total compliance with God’s plan.  While this notion that Jesus was imperfect may (and very well did) upset many people of the Christian faith, it portrays him as a man that anyone in the audience could relate to on a very basic level.  It is the heart of the film, showing the viewer that no matter what happens, it is possible to move past mistakes, and that where one ends his or her journey matters.  No one is free from error; that is what makes each and every one of us human.

-Chris Lombardo


Jesus de Montreal

April 29, 2012

In response to Lisa’s comment that the film shows the truth too much; I understand where you would see it that way. The film exposes the unfortunate truths that still can be seen today; there is no value anymore. Religion and faith is just about one of the only things in this day and age that grounds us. However, I think that the point of this film was to expose the unfortunate truths about how superficiality and product take precedence over what once was important; faith and devotion. This is exactly what I thought was brilliant about the film. It intertwined modern day society with that of Jesus’ time. Through the eyes of actors, the audience was able to see a succinct replication of a time where things were simplistic and general to a time where life is a far more materialistic and complicated. It is for this reason that I actually think the ending scene was a perfect tone to end the movie with. There were questions unanswered, prayers not yet responded to. It was a scene that made a bold statement.


The Last Temptation of Christ-Response paper

April 28, 2012

The Last Temptation of Christ

The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsese shows the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle such as fear, reluctance, depression, doubt, and fear. However, the movie departs from the accepted Biblical depiction of the life of Jesus Christ. In other words, the movie is remotely derived from the Gospel of John, Luke, Mark, and Mathew. The movie starts with the renunciation that it is not based on the above gospels. Instead the movie is derived from the book, The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. The book focuses on the dual nature of Christ or his humanity (Greydanus).

It is not a must that the dramatic representation of the humanity of Christ to be compatible with the different articles about Christ (Greydanus). But, it could be valuable as well as worthwhile if any work of art focuses on the truth about Christ. In The Last Temptation of Christ, the movie gives the audiences the ‘human’ Jesus, but then again he is imperfect. The movie has scenes that depict blasphemy. For instance, there is a part where Jesus expounds that he creates the crosses for crucifying his fellow Jews and the Romans thus God will not only hate him, but also abandon him. Other scenes show the persistent confusion and doubts of Jesus regarding the nature of his mission and identity. For instance, Jesus doubts whether he is the Savior or Messiah (Greydanus).

In another scene, Jesus sits all afternoon in an apartment adjacent to Mary Magdalene’s room who is a prostitute. Jesus is able to see as well as hear Mary Magdalene servicing some of her clients. It is argued that Jesus could be moved to lust since he could see and hear. Throughout the film, it is shown that Jesus is obsessed with Mary Magdalene.

In Mark 3:31-35, the crowd of listeners tells Jesus that his brothers and mother want to see him. Jesus tells the crowd that “his brothers and sisters are people who do the will of God”. In the Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus tells his mother that he has “no family and turns his back on Mary” (Greydanus). This makes Mary break down in tears. In Mark 7:10-13, Jesus emphasizes that everyone should respect his/her parents. Therefore, the movie contradicts Jesus’ teaching on love and respect.

The movie is not comparable to the traditional Christian understanding. In the movie, Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus since he is ordered to do so by Jesus. In one of the scenes, Judas tells Jesus to put himself in his position and asks him whether he could let down the beloved master. Jesus tells Judas he cannot do it but he insists he is ready to die on the cross (Greydanus). In addition, Judas Iscariot acts as the conscience of Jesus. For instance, when Jesus starts his ministry, he fears that Judas will kill him if does not complete his mission.

According to the Christian teachings, Christ was not only fully divine, but also fully human. This implies that there is nothing wrong to try to express humanity of Christ in form a novel or film. This brings to the people’s mind the truth of the humanity of Christ as an honorable as well as good thing even though Christ’s divinity is not addressed. It is worthwhile to visualize Jesus being able of experiencing fear and loneliness, having fun with the people, e.g., wedding party, or becoming annoyed with his disciples and not being perfect, i.e., he commits sins.

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Greydanus, S. The Last Temptation of Christ: An Essay in Film Criticism and Faith. 2010. 25 April 2012 <http://www.decentfilms.com/articles/lasttemptation>.

 


The Life of Brian- Response paper

April 28, 2012

‘The life of Brian’

 

This paper will major on the narrative style of the movie whereby the main content will involve how the story has been developed. The narrative style here is the technique that the director has used to come up with the arrangement of the different events in the movie. The main way in which the movie is sequenced is to check whether the director of the movie has achieved the characters required for a good and understandable movie. The movie, “Life of Brian,” relays the story of Brian’s life in general. This is because he is the aim character and this makes certain that the viewer is able to understand all about the play by making the story talk more about the protagonist Brian. This is a movie that in particular entails the story of religious spoof.

In the movie all the scenes that take place are put in an order, which can simply make the viewer have the flow of what is going on until the moment the movie comes to an end. Terry clearly explains the life of Brian in a systematic manner. Explanation of his life from the time he is young to the time he undergoes suffering is not mixed up. This is to mean the director wants to attract the attention of the viewers by making sure the flow of the story is the way it is supposed to be. Unlike situations where some directors may not really have the ability to ensure that the events are in order, Terry makes certain that his movie is perfect and different (87-88). Making sure that the events are in an order the way they are supposed to be in makes it possible for the director to attract the attention of the viewers to ensure that they grasp all that is going on in the movie.

At the beginning the actor is born and the director explains all the situations that he undergoes before he dies. All these events take place each at a time and the good nature found in the director is that he tries his best to ensure that they are all sequenced as they happened. From the beginning the events are sequenced in order to ensure that there is no confusion when watching the movie.

This generally gives a clear impression that the movie is understandable to anyone who watches it. All the episodes are put in place in such a way that the movie does not make the viewer confused, which is an element that is featured extensively in this movie making it one of the best movies ever released. It is very clear that people usually go for what they know when they watch they will always be satisfied with what they have seen and if told to narrate he story they are in a position to. All the movies should therefore have this character to ensure that they have a flow that is well understood. In this case the director of the movie, Terry Jones qualifies to produce good movies because of the way this one is managed. It has the characters of a good movie, making the director have the heart of producing even more.

 

Coming to the conclusion part of it, all movies should have an understandable flow of stories to make certain that the viewers get to know what the movie is talking about. All movie directors should make certain that they have the ability to produce movies that cannot make viewers bored but make them cheer up and understand the content therein. On the other hand they should always ensure that the movies have interesting parts to break the boredom. This will cause those who have watched the movies, and have seen that they are really good, convince others to but them making it a big profit for the directors.

 


The Passion of the Christ: The Crucifixion.

April 27, 2012

In the scene where Jesus is carrying the cross, there are a lot of things happening that don’t in many crucifixion scenes. Jesus holds onto the cross for dear life, he is not only carrying the heavy wooden plank, but grasping it as if for some sort of comfort. It looks to me as if he’s gripping it so tightly to help bare this horrible tragedy, to hide himself from the crowd that’s tormenting him. He looks like a scared child desperately holding onto his father’s leg for safety. Hs agony and the amount of pain he is feeling are emphasized in this scene.

 

We get a small glimpse in the mind of Jesus by the use of quick cuts to the past. As Jesus is walking, in severe pain and agony, his mind takes him to a better place. The agitated crowd is throwing things and cursing at him, but Jesus is remembering a time when the people of Jerusalem praised him and openly loved him. He flashes back to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We get a small vision, twice, from Jesus’ point of view as he’s riding a donkey through the streets. His people lay palms at his feet and smile at his arrival. Jesus is trying to mentally return to a time of peace, without pain and suffering. The palm scene is a story told and praised every Palm Sunday in worship. The people of Jerusalem were overjoyed upon his arrival, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).  This works well to compare how Jesus’ people turned their backs on him.

Two other predominant characters are shown throughout the whole scene. We get a clear picture of their mentality and approach as they both follow Jesus. The camera cuts from Jesus to Mary and to the hooded figure, Satan. Mary and Satan watch each other slowly from other sides of the crowd, as they both follow Jesus, as he’s carrying the cross. Mary looks at Satan in concern and possibly an understanding of who he is and Satan looks at Mary in a daring, taunting, and provocative manner. Mary’s gaze is a fearful one and yet one of utter disgust.

When Jesus is hung on the cross, Mel Gibson truly does not leave one detail out of the whole process. Jesus is clearly beaten and whipped on every exposed inch of his skin. The look of agony on his face is heart wrenching. I think because we are so used to the portrayal of the story of the crucifixion in most movies, we assume after Jesus was hung on the cross, he immediately died and was taken to Heaven. In the bible there are a few contradictions pertaining to the exact time and amount of hours, but after careful consideration and speculation by many, it was come to some sort of conclusion that Jesus hung from some part of the morning until late afternoon.

“Mark says he was crucified in the third hour which could mean for him sometime in the late morning, leading up to noon. John says Jesus was tried by Pilate at about the sixth hour (or a bit earlier since he did not have a Timex to confirm the exact time) and was straightaway crucified. This puts Mark and John very close, even overlapping. So, Jesus was on the cross from possibly late morning or almost noon until the ninth hour, or about3 PM” (Steve Ray).

Mel Gibson does a wonderful job in reminding his audience that there was a significant amount of time that Jesus remained alive and in agony upon the cross.  He shows the passing of time by fading from a long distance shot of the mountain to a foggy sky. We watch the clouds for a short time and then cut back to Jesus’ agony with two quick cuts.  These cuts allow us to get a sense that time is passing, quickly for us, but slowly for Jesus. Gibson cuts from clouds to Jesus, giving us a sense of God’s presence watching over his son. We all seem to be waiting for his intervention as we keep getting shots of Jesus’ face in anguish. Jesus looks up at the sky in waiting with the audience. The shots of the sky could be Jesus’ point of view. We see his blood dripping down the post; he’s losing a lot blood, any moment now God should be here. These scenes are building the suspense to his arrival. We are waiting in distress, with Jesus, for it to end. Close up shots of his eye, the only eye that remains open, gives us his state of mind. He seems fearful, his eyes looking from the ground to the sky. Where is his father? We fade back to the sky, still awaiting God’s arrival. A group of soldiers are amusing themselves by playing a game at the feet of Jesus. We get a God-like shot from above the cross down at the soldiers as thunder begins to strike, calling the attention of some of the soldiers. God has arrived.

 

"How Long Was Jesus on the Cross" By Steve Ray

http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/WhatTimeCrucified.pdf


The Music of Jésus de Montréal

April 25, 2012

Not all the music, obviously….

But the duet of soprano and alto during the opening titles and the closing credits: what are they singing?

What they are singing in the church during the opening titles is the Inflammatus movement from the Pergolesi Stabat Mater (1736).  The Stabat Mater is a hymn sung, traditionally, during Lent, with words beginning “Stabat mater dolorosa” (the sorrowful mother stood), and describing the Virgin Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus.

The words to this movement are: Inflammatus et accensus, Per te, virgo, sim defensus, in die iudicii. [In flames and on fire, may I be defended by you, O virgin, on the day of judgment.]

The same singers are shown at the end of the film, singing now as buskers in the Montreal subway station where we had last seen Daniel as a conscious human being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are singing…the very next movement of the same Pergolesi Stabat Mater.  The words here are: Quando corpus morietur, fac ut animae donetur, paradisi gloria. [When this body dies, grant that my soul be given the glory of paradise.]

You can listen to the Pergolesi Stabat Mater on Youtube.  The relevant file is

Start at 3.25 for the Inflammatus.

Start at 5.35 for the Quando corpus.

 


The Life of Brian – Terry Jones

April 25, 2012

The Life of Brian caused quite a controversy upon its release to the public.  The film was even banned in several countries for it was thought to be blasphemous and out to mock the suffering of Jesus.  However that is not what the film sought out to do, it was not intended to destroy anyone’s faith.  The film did take a satirical approach to the Jesus tale but it does not blasphemously criticize the God that Christians and Jews worship.  However it does criticize the practices of modern organized religion making the film heretical and obviously satirical, but not it is in no way blasphemous.  The scene on the Mount when Jesus, played by Kenneth Colley, addresses the Beatitudes does not depict Jesus in a way that mocks the biblical figure (6:47).  On the contrary Jesus is played straight and portrayed with respect.  Colley does not speak in a satirical manner in this scene, he speaks sincerely and with conviction.  Even the music and lighting of the scene convey the importance of Jesus’s character. The scene opens with music that is strong and powerful as the camera pans up the hill to where Jesus stands.  When Jesus does appear he is the central figure and there is a light that surrounds him that shows the genuine aura around him (7:28).  This scene in a way confirms that the films intention was a blasphemous one but rather a satiric social comment on modern religion pratices.  The director, Terry Jones, described it best when he was quoted saying: “the film is not blasphemous because it does not touch on belief at all.  It is heretical, because it touches on dogma and the interpretation of belief, rather than belief itself”.  The scene in the film after  Brian has just spends the night with Judith shows the films motive in commenting on the practice of modern religion (16:15 Part II).  The crowd hangs on Brian’s every word and blindly worships the mistaken Messiah.

The most obviously controversial scene is what a doubt the crucifixion in the ending of the film.  This scene could be interpreted as mocking Jesus’s suffering because the film treats it in a very casual way.  For instance when Brian is captured and incarcerated by the Romans he turns to one of his fellow cellmates and asks what will happen to him.  The cellmate replies “Oh, you’ll probably get away with a crucifixion” and this gives the audience the impression that the punishment was not  is not that bad; as if that is not the worst thing that could happen.  Another example would be the the moment right after Brian is crucified and one of his fellow suffers turns to him and says “See, not so bad once you’re up!” (35:25 Part II)  Again the intention is not to be blasphemous but rather to use this sarcastic telling of Jesus’s story to comment on how modern religion glorifies and turns the crucifixion into an icon.


Jesus De Montreal

April 25, 2012

Jesus De Montreal

What made Jesus De Montreal successful despite a few problems that irked me: hollow and over the top caricatures representative of some vapid “modern” world (an inherently dishonest critique because of its simplistic representation of modern times and people), use of cheap and out-of-place 80’s rock riffs during scene transitions (tonal incongruities), and a rather bland filmmaking style (one of the few imaginative scenes/shots — “end of the universe” was derivative: Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (I also admired the effective dramatics of the train passing by during Daniel’s collapse, and also, the closing shot.) was the strength of the concept—the staging of a modernized Passion play based on newly discovered information about Jesus’s life—and the political ramifications and difficulties such a production would face.

That conceit and the inevitable ensuing dramatics alone could have carried the film, but in addition to the Church’s reaction writer/director Denys Arcade also layered the film with a critique of a modern, consumerist, image obsessed society. By also positing in the film an argument against Jesus as a product, a carefully crafted, and heavily protected image. One protected by the Church higher-up’s (whom we never see) those that—to protect their product— demand modification, then outright cancellation of the play. This aspect of the film is told subtlety, and only alluded to briefly (its relation to Jesus, at least); the importance of image and its relevance to the Christ narrative is in its parallels to Daniel’s experience and his incompatibility with the modern world. The church has resigned itself to offering “happiness”—to give the miserable something to soothe the suffering. Actual meaning—a deep and true meaning—is not the objective. It’s about the selling of the product: Jesus as a source of salvation, an abstraction, not as a man. Arcade’s film encourages us to consider how it parallels modern advertising: drink the beer, get the beautiful girl— believe in Jesus, get eternal salvation. They both distort the truth to manufacture a desire that supposedly only their product satisfies. And any individual or idea that challenges that assertion (humanizes Jesus) is bad for business— and the Catholic Church is big business. And as Father Lecierc says in the film—“Institutions live longer than men”— and this institution: the Catholic Church, has Jesus trademarked.


The Last Temptation of Christ

April 24, 2012

In The Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus Christ is depicted as the prominent figure he is, but also a relatable character. He often seems conflicted about his identity as the son of God. For instance, he asks himself “What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say the right thing?”. This example strives to portray Jesus as a relatable character to anyone. Jesus wonders if his decisions and choices should be for the good of humanity, which leads him to wonder if his daily decisions and choices will possibly be monumental. Although ordinary men and women may not face quite the same dilemma, they are still faced with the factor of personal morality in their decisions. In essence, even the smallest decisions could eventually become fundamental.

The role of Jesus can also be thought of as one where he rises to the occasion to become the messiah. Although he often tries to convince others and even himself that he is a simple man, he recognizes that he is much more than an ordinary man He explains “Today and tomorrow I cast out demons and work cures. On the third day, I will be perfected.” In articulating the process he will be going through, Jesus recognizes the path to becoming the messiah.

Although Jesus is also tempted by the life of an ordinary man, he continuously follows the path he has been confined to by destiny. At last he begs to be the son that God wanted. Possibly best summed up in the following lines, Jesus states that “If I was a woodcutter, I’d cut. If I was a fire, I’d burn. But I’m a heart and I love. That’s the only thing I can do.”


The Passion of the Christ

April 24, 2012

Carla Pennolino

The Passion of the Christ Response Paper

            The Passion of the Christ (2004), directed by Mel Gibson, is a movie that depicts the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life. Jim Caviezel plays the role of Jesus Christ. The movie opens with the “Agony in the Garden” scene and ends with a brief depiction of his resurrection. Flashbacks of Jesus’ childhood and other important scenes throughout Jesus’ life, before the garden, are depicted throughout the movie as well.

I think it is interesting that Gibson tries to put a modern twist on an ancient story. Although the graphics, costumes, etc. are modern, the film is in Latin (translated be William Fulco), a dead language. The story is modern, but the language is ancient; this can confuse the audience.

I, for one, was confused as to why, if Gibson was going for a modern twist, he has the actors and actresses speak in Latin. Gibson believed that if the movie were in a modern vernacular, “it makes you want to stand up and shout out the next line, like when you hear ‘To be, or not to be’ and you instinctively say to yourself, ‘that is the question.’”

After reading this quote from Mel Gibson, it was easier to understand just why he chose to integrate modern and ancient ways. The story of Jesus’ crucifixion has been told so many times in so many different ways that, at times, it becomes almost cliché. Gibson tries to break away from this cliché, making the Passion of the Christ a groundbreaking and successful film.

One of the most sentimental scenes in the movie is the “Whipping Scene (Third Day). Gibson portrays Jesus in chains, emaciated and a mess. He portrays the Romans as ruthless, insensitive barbarians who are laughing about Jesus’ condition. When Jesus’ garments are removed, it is chilling to see the open wounds all over his body. The Romans are extremely rough when chaining Jesus down and even go as far as testing if the whips are “good enough,” laughing the entire time. One can see the hurt, pain and hatred in Jesus’ eyes when he looks up at them. As they are stretching and preparing for the violence, Jesus stands there without a fight. As he utters: “My hear is ready, Father…,” one cannot help but feel the pain and strength flowing through his body. It is disturbing to see how much force is behind the whipping and Jesus convulsing in pain. As the other Romans look on, one cannot detect an ounce of sympathy from any of them. Their stares are cold.

When Jesus stands back up after falling from being whipped, the Romans look on with anger and grab chains with spikes attached instead of whips. Jesus is in so much pain and his family and friends look on, petrified and crying as the Romans laugh as his misery and pain. The scene ends with Jesus laying on the floor in his own pool of blood, exhausted and wounded beyond belief.

This scene is modern twist on the ancient scene. No other movie depicted this scene in all its goriness. As well as being groundbreaking, it is heart wrenching. Gibson helps his audience understand the real, un-denying “passion” behind Jesus’ last twelve hours, hence the movie title.

 


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