Wow. Remember Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”?
I was 18 when it came out in 1988 and I don’t even remember how many times I saw it, I was so smitten. Countless, countless times. It, like, POSSESSED me. I even dragged poor Jen Friedman to it on our first date. Problem is, I BLUBBERED like a bitch all through, so that was NOT a very hot thing to do on a first date. Sorry, Jen.
My cop dad was an altar boy. I was supposed to be baptized. It’s what Grandma Koch wanted. But it didn’t happen. So the rest of my life, I’d go through these waves where I just HAD to go and sit in a Catholic church as if “called forth.” The ones I saw in Europe were especially breathtaking. Italian churches take their Jesus crucifixes VERY seriously, I would discover. When you look up and see the suffering…well…
What can I say? It’s not like I’m some big religious guy or anything – okay, I did go through a short-lived Buddhist phase – I just feel a connection to Christ. And Scorsese’s odd, sad, beautiful film brought Jesus closer to me than any work of art or church ever had, even though it was SO controversial (A dark angel approaches Jesus while he’s on the cross and offers him vision…a glimpse of himself as a mortal…so Jesus gets off the cross, checks it out, decides it’s NOT the life for him, and hops BACK UP on the cross.) Extreme religious types could NOT digest that, even though they hadn’t even seen it. It was CRAZY how protested that film was. But, for me, it put Jesus on a gritty, earthy, Scorsese-like-level I could identify with and personalize. The STRUGGLE! Wow, did I weep.
Looking at it again recently, I think I love it more than ever. It’s still funny to watch Willem Dafoe and Harvey Keitel running around Morocco yelling at each other in their New York accents, but they are SO brilliant in their roles of Jesus and Judas. And there’s so many OTHER cool actors in it, too, like John Lurie, Barbara Hershey, Vic Argo, Harry Dean Stanton, Barry Miller, Roberts Blossom, etc. David Bowie as Pilate! But best of all is the score by Peter Gabriel. Listen to “Passion” if you ever need emotional catharsis. It is completely soul-changing. And it totally opened my ears to Middle-Eastern music that I still check out to this day.
Anyway…I could go on forever about this film and how much it screwed me up, but I’m done. And I won’t even address that Jesus movie Mel Gibson made.
WINE PAIRING: Jesus, of course, performed miracles, including turning water into wine. So whichever wine to choose to enjoy today, tomorrow, Thanksgiving, whenever…just make sure to be grateful for it…and savor it.