August is now officially the unofficial A-Town Appreciation Month here at the Jessica Journals. First we went on a tour of one of Appleton’s top museums and then I presented you with a brief guide to A-Town's more interesting attractions. Now I think it's time to look at one of the artistic offerings of A-Town's golden boy. I speak of The Last Temptation of Christ and of Willem Dafoe--or "Billy" as he's known hereabouts.
There are, I suppose, many things that one could say about The LTOC, but, for myself, I feel compelled to echo my brother Paul's sentiments when he reached the end of this movie...."The hella I just watch?"
The movie came out in 1988 to much controversy and tells the tale of a schizophrenic's nightmare. It also tells the tale of my nightmare, but only because my greatest fear is to sit down to watch a movie at Easter only to rise upon its completion, pop out the DVD, flip on the lights, and discover that it's August. Yes, the movie is that long.
Needless to say, this being a Scorsese movie, The LTOC seems to rest firmly upon a foundation of hallucinogenic drugs. The movie has moments of general bizarre weirdness--John the Baptist's cult of fanatical, drug-crazed, booby-flashing hippies--and moments of intensely whacked-out, psychotic and disturbing weirdness--the time that Jesus ripped his own heart out of his chest. (!!!)
Yes, that was the kind of person Jesus was--big on flash and yet, when you get down to it, fairly creepy and most likely insane. In fact, as I watched the film, I began to suspect that Jesus wasn't the real Son of God at all. I know, it's blasphemous for me to even think it, but I think there's just too much evidence to reasonably reach any other conclusion....
Call me crazy, but I think that a real Holy Son would be able to properly pronounce the name "God".
All the other Christs I've seen actually took the time to read the first four books of the New Testament instead of merely skimming the Gospels Cliff Notes.
God, in his mercy, did not want to force images of an Incarnate Mick Jagger onto the minds of any who gazed upon His Son.
One thing, however, that was very Christ-like was Willem's flowing locks. All Jesuses have them, though whether they're the creation of a First Century desert hair-stylist or the result of excessive Pert Plus usage I have yet to discover.
Now I know that some people consider this movie to be a poorly written, controversial piece of blasphemy. I, however, thought it caused people to think by raising some interesting questions, foremost among which were (1) What is a red-haired man with a mafioso accent doing in First Century Israel? And (2) What is the appropriate length for two male prophets to hold a mouth-to-mouth kiss?
Needless to say, there were, as there are in all movies, some ways in which The Last Temptation of Christ could have been improved, and you will find it difficult to convince me that this movie wouldn't have been ten times better if Pontius Pilate had had a song and dance number. Seriously, what director in their right mind casts David Bowie and doesn't let him sing? If he's got socks in his crotch and muppets backing him it's even better.
I can picture it now...Pontius whips off his toga to reveal sequined Eighteenth Century evening garb as he begins to wail, "I saw my Jesus crying hard as Christ could cry. What could I do?"
It might have cheered up our clinically depressed Messiah to the point that he didn't feel it necessary to throw in the towel and die on the cross.
If nothing else, it would have cheered me up.
Copyright 2005 Jessica Menn