The Last Temptation of Christ (Sony Pictures) (1988)

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Released 24-Apr-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 156:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (77:28) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Martin Scorsese
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Willem Dafoe
Harvey Keitel
Barbara Hershey
Harry Dean Stanton
David Bowie
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music Peter Gabriel


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Portuguese
Danish
Finnish
Swedish
Norwegian
German
Dutch
Czech
Polish
Turkish
Hungarian
Bulgarian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation Of Christ was brought by the screen by two of the more gritty and real filmmakers in recent American history, namely Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader. Both of these men have worked almost exclusively in the territory of man’s inner torment, and this film is no exception. It is introduced to us with a quote from the novel, making the point that the movie is more an interpretation of what may have happened to Christ, bearing in mind that he was both God and man, and had more than a fair share of opportunities for Satan to attempt to shake him from the path which was recorded by the gospels.

    Probably one of the more controversial films of our time (having been condemned by religious groups everywhere), The Last Temptation Of Christ attempts to paint us a picture of a man given a supremely hard mission in life by his God and father. And this it does with aplomb, demonstrating for us that yes, Christ was a man, and that surely the greatest temptation to stray from his path was to that of a quiet life with wife and children.

    Willem Dafoe excels for the most part in surely one of the more difficult roles that any actor can face, and although brilliant in the early stages as a tormented young man, and then as a revolutionary, he loses it a little just past the middle as his enlightenment looks a little insane. Barbara Hershey also does well as Magdalene, and although Harvey Keitel is easy to watch as Judas (painted more as devoted than traitorous), his presence, as well as that of a couple of other actors, make it a little too much like a “Brooklyn” Christ story than a middle Eastern one.

    The Last Temptation Of Christ is a truly brave and memorable movie, if only for the fact that Scorsese makes his Christ story a little easier to relate to than most conventional tales: what an irony that the Church was against it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. In general, it is pretty darn good: clear and sharp. Shadow detail, whilst adequate, is never brilliant, and overall, it seems to be lacking just a tad in detail, with some of the more complex scenes (such as those involving a multitude of stones scattered over the ground) causing some problems, such as at 52:55. Occasionally, some grain creeps in as well, but you have to look hard for it, and most of the time it was probably a result of the photography rather than the transfer. Edge enhancement was too, occasionally excessive.

    The world in about 32 A.D. was not an especially colourful place, with dusty browns being the dominating tones of both the landscape and of the people. Occasionally, though, there is the odd burst of greenery and other natural colour, and this is represented faithfully. The fact that the blacks aren’t quite as deep as they could be does evidence a little fading of the colour all round.

    Film artefacts mar most of the transfer, with standouts being throughout the opening credits, and then at around the 31:00 mark. There was also something that looked like a rather nasty stain on the film stock at 133:35. Aliasing was only a minor concern, and was caused occasionally by the thick-lined Hessian popular with the fashion of the day.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change occurring at 77:28. It comes at a relatively still moment, and if it weren’t for the slight interruption to an echo, it would have gone undetected.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five soundtracks in all, in various languages. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and was pleasantly surprised by the job done on the remix from the original stereo. There were no audio sync issues to report despite a bit of dodgy looping at 113:45, and generally the dialogue was clear and easy to understand.

    Although much of the soundtrack is front-heavy, the surrounds are used reasonably regularly, such as the many scenes where crowds gather, and for various effects, such as wind and where Jesus is tempted in the desert. The music also benefits from the remix, giving much of the in-movie music, especially around the baptism and wedding scenes an enveloping feel. The subwoofer does well to add to the lower end of the score, as well as for the odd exploding snake and such effects.

    The real feature of the audio is the wonderful music from Peter Gabriel, who, at the time of making the movie, was heavily into the music of the region. It is haunting and brilliant, making the perfect accompaniment to the movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is not 16x9 enhanced, and is silent. It features a still representation of the crown of thorns, and the basic menu choices.

Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0) (1:38)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The first R1 version was that produced by the wonderful people at Criterion. It contains:

Summary

    The Last Temptation Of Christ is an excellent movie, from a director daring enough to have the courage of his convictions. The video and audio quality were pleasantly surprising, but the lack of extras is enough to make me hang on to my Criterion version.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Curulli (read my bio)
Saturday, January 05, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D608
SpeakersFront: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W

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