TWENTY-FIVE years after its release was marred by "false rumour
and innuendo . . . an almost wilful misunderstanding of what we
were trying to do", the film The Last Temptation of Christ
had a fresh opportunity to speak to people about faith, struggle,
and resolution, its director said on Saturday.
The fact that the screening took place in Wells Cathedral lent
weight to Martin Scorsese's contention that the culture wars of
1988 had "moved on". Although the organisation Christian Concern
urged supporters to write to the Dean, the Very Revd John Clarke,
opposing the screening of a "blasphemous" film, he reported on
Monday that opposition had been confined to a single person
distributing leaflets before the screening.
"The film does not present an orthodox view of who Jesus was,
but it has really interesting questions to raise about the nature
of temptation both in Jesus and ourselves," he said.
Screened as a coda to the Bath Film Festival, the film was
preceded by a video message from Mr Scorsese, who described how he
had been inspired by the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis: "The idea of
Christ's struggle to fulfil his destiny was very, very moving to
me. Kazantzakis' theme was very beautiful and so simple. It's that
Christ is tempted ultimately with the one thing he can't have and
which all of us take for granted: humanity."
The screening at the cathedral was a long-term dream of the
festival's director, Philip Raby. On Friday, he said: "Personally,
I have never yet met anyone who, on actually watching the film, has
found it offensive."