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The Last Temptation of Christ

The Last Temptation of Christ is a novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis, first published in December 1960. It has been the subject of a great deal of controversy due to its subject matter: it tells a fictional version of the life of Jesus Christ, told from his point of view. The book regularly appears on lists of banned books.

Martin Scorsese directed a picture of the same name, based on that book and released by Universal Pictures[?] in 1988. It stars Willem Dafoe as Jesus, Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot, and Barbara Hershey[?] as Mary Magdalene.

Scorsese, a devout Catholic, had wanted to make a filmed version of the life of Jesus for many years, and he attempted to make the movie in the early 1980s. The project had to be placed on hold for several years, and the film was finally completed and released to theaters in 1988.

Protests against the movie from the religious community began before the film finished production. The studio was expecting a backlash due to the controversies revolving around any media treatment of Christ (see fictional portrayals of Jesus Christ), but the protests accompanying Last Temptation were unprecedented. Major religious leaders in the United States blasted the film in fiery sermons, and condemned its subject matter as pornographic.

The source of the contrversy over the film stemmed from a scene near the end of the movie in which Jesus imagines marrying Magdalene, instead of dying on the cross (the Crucifixion). A brief scene of the married couple making love is shown in the film, which sparked the anger of the protesters.

The film has been supported by scholars, film critics, and some religious leaders. In his defense of the movie, noted critic (and friend of Scorsese) Roger Ebert wrote that Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader[?] "paid Christ the compliment of taking him and his message seriously, and they have made a film that does not turn him into a garish, emasculated image from a religious postcard. Here he is flesh and blood, struggling, questioning, asking himself and his father which is the right way, and finally, after great suffering, earning the right to say, on the cross, 'It is accomplished.'"

The film's musical soundtrack was composed by Peter Gabriel, and released on CD under the title Passion: Music for The Last Temptation of Christ[?]. The film's score has been widely acclaimed on its own as a landmark in the popularization of world music.

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