Montreal Film Journal


Another film telling the story of Jesus? Yeah, but much more than that. First, this film doesn't show Jesus' birth and childhood. It starts with a carpenter named Jesus who builds crosses for the Romans. He's named Jesus. He's a tormented man. He hears voices in his head. He's in constant pain. God speaks to him but he doesn't want to listen. Throughout the film, we witness the main events of Jesus' life, but they're told in an original way. The final act in particular brings a whole new interpretation of Jesus' life and death. Was Jesus tempted of becoming a normal man?

That's one of the questions brought by the film. Screenwriter Paul Schrader adapted Nikos Kazakantis book and Martin Scorsese directed the film, brilliantly. His images with Peter Gabriel's awesome score make the story even more powerful. Jesus is played by Willem Dafoe. His performance is great. Jesus is not a shallow character. Judas is masterfully played by Harvey Keitel, an actor always interesting to watch, even though his Brooklyn accent is distracting in this context, as is the odd casting of David Bowie as Ponce Pilate! This movie is impressive and memorable. It has some slow parts, but some other moments, like the crucifixion, are incredibly intense.