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Last Temptation screened in Wells Cathedral

31 January 2014

PA

Early screening: Sister Andrea (left) and Sister Thekla, nuns from the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Hertfordshire, receive a request from the police to move to the other side of the road as they distribute leaflets outside the Plaza Cinema in Piccadilly, London, whenThe Last Temptation of Christ opened, in September, 1988 

Early screening: Sister Andrea (left) and Sister Thekla, nuns from the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Hertfordshire, receive a request from the p...

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."

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