Reel Rumbles #42: The Last Temptation of Christ vs. The Passion of the Christ

Nicholas Vargo

My name is Nicholas Vargo and I live in La Mesa, California, a suburb of San Diego. Even though the amount of movies I have seen might not show it completely, I am one of the biggest movie buffs out there - even though I know I still have many, many movies out there that I need to see. Still, my love of movies remain the backbone of my life. I have a BA in English from ASU and am currently looking for new work opportunities. Some of the other things I like to do in my spare time are playing Wii and even something as simple as organizing my movie collection. I hope to one day become a published film critic - if the job title is still available. You can find me on Flickchart as NicholasVargo, so feel free to add me as a friend if you like.

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5 Responses

  1. Sitzman says:

    Hi Nicholas,

    I recently started following the Flickchart blog, and I was happy to discover this review. I thought it was very interesting, even though I’ve not see Passion. Actually, just a week or two ago on my blog I did a comparison of the portrayal of Judas in The Last Temptation of Christ and Jesus Christ Superstar. Like I said, I’ve still not seen The Passion of the Christ, but your review’s making me think that I maybe should.

    Thanks for this! Have a good one,

    Actually, if you want to see the review, it’s here:
    …but much more about theology than cinema, I suppose! 

  2. Mercede says:

    Highly biased review. It was very clear after reading the intro that no matter what, the blogger would surely make the Mel Gibson’s Movie a looser. and in every area he did that job well.

    I have seen both films. He must understand that people go to watch movies not because it discusses jesus or because it shows his life or his teachings. The main purpose of watching a film is entertainment which can be thru drama, acting, thrill and anything that makes the viewers forget about their lives and problems and fully immerse in the experience. I do not understand where does the last temptation of chrit achieves that? It was a boring film that looked more like a 3 hour long “made on 35mm” documentary.

    In last please understand that not every film that gets oscar is something liked and appreciated by people. Everyone knows that some films that got oscar in any category are the worst at box office.

    • David Greenwood says:

      I don’t know, I think he did a pretty good job trying to be even handed. He did give props to a lot of what Gibson did. In the end, it’s clear that he prefers one to the other, but who doesn’t? What’s important is that he gave reasons for his opinion, not just “Mel’s crazy, so his movie is dumb”.

      That aside, I disagree with the conclusions of this article. While I think Last Temptation was more philosophically interesting, it’s terribly dated, and Dafoe’s jesus is too “actor’s school” to be believable (the early scene where he says “I’m struggling” is just one of many lines that come across as someone reading a character description).

      Neither film totally satisfies me, but The Passion was a more fulfilling cinematic experience. It’s a crime against justice film, and a brutal one. Maybe the violence was just a smidge over the top, but I think the sheer barbarity of it made the acts of kindness (like Simon trying to carry the cross) stand out much more.

      Finally, as a non-Christian, I appreciated the central conflict between Jesus and the religious establishment, which I think is the most important lesson to learn from the entire story: “You can’t go preaching your peace and love and everybody gets into heaven… that puts us out of a job!”. Gibson’s unshaking belief in the material really pushed it over the top as a moviegoing experience.

      That said, it’s not the most enjoyable film, and Last Temptation covers more interesting thematic ground, but I think the OP covered that angle just fine without my help ^_^

  3. Alex Krajci says:

    2004’s The Passion Of The Christ Made Ms. Van Ham Cry.