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Thursday, July 1, 2010

my favorite movie

So I am taking this challenge from NaBloPoMo to blog everyday during July and revitalize my declining web presence.   Some of you know that I had a blood clot situation in March - there will be more details about that shortly, but for today...I am using their "writing stimulator" - 

my favorite movie is The Last Temptation of Christ.   or at least it used to be.   It's been so many years since I've seen it that I have really no idea anymore lol.  I used to call Star Wars my favorite movie, and then when I saw it again with my daughter last year I realized that it seemed kind of dated and was a little bit boring.  Brazil is a great one, but also I haven't watched that in years.  

To catch up those who haven't seen it:  Last Temptation is a fictional riffing on the Gospel of Matthew. Satan tempts Jesus to accept a normal life as a man while he is on the cross.  He comes down off the cross, has kids, lives to be an old man...

What I like about Last Temptation: 

a)  It was a pet project of Martin Scorsese's for years, and has great personal meaning for him...I am always attracted to great artists' pet projects...
b)  Willem Dafoe's performance and subsequent commentary on the Criterion Collection DVD - Willem is an acknowledged agnostic who describes feeling "a presence" during the filming that went away after shooting stopped...and he plays an extremely human, confused, frightened Jesus...
c)  Peter Gabriel's score - an extremely sensual series of music pieces - I have great memories about this music from a period of time when I was 20 and with a particular significant other...hahaha nothing like being young and lusty...with a great soundtrack to accompany...
d)  It's not particularly reverent and yet not irreverent - it preserves the actors' New York accents yet also gives a distinct visceral feeling of the sacred - the way an Essene must have felt having hallucinations after fasting in the desert for 40 days....
e)  The crucifixion sequence and the events of the Last Temptation are some of the most powerful filmmaking I can think of - I am thinking especially about the silence when Satan in the form of a little girl is taking the nails out of Jesus's feet and taking him off the cross...whatever one believes about Christianity and God in general, you've gotta admit that symbolically this is about as strong as you can get in Western Civilization.  
f)  Overall, it is a very visceral, gut-level, experiential telling of the Christ story which is one of the organizing myths in our society and resonates with me on a cellular level.  The camera movements ("God wants to PUSH me over" Jesus shouts as the camera takes us off the cliff), the music, the costumes, the stark desert scenery....every small physical action takes on HUGE meaning - when Jesus eats an apple, it bleeds...
g)  Religion is explained in one scene with Harry Dean Stanton as the Apostle Paul who encounters the Jesus who chose a normal life - "It doesn't matter what really happened to you.  It matters what people believe happened.  The resurrected Christ will save the world!  Not you.  I'm glad I met you, so I can forget all about you."  
h)  David Bowie as Pontius Pilate!  

In my mind, a person of faith would not find this film blasphemous...a person of faith would find this film inspiring, gut-wrenching, and ultimately reinforcing a strong connection to the Divine.  But, hey that's just me.  :-) 




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