A French dissenter threw a molotov cocktail in one of the theaters during its exhibition. The criticisms leveled at the film, just like in the case of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ (2004), indicate a certain risk for filmmakers, which could affect the articulation of the material. This paper takes a closer look at three significant ‘Jesus-films’: The Last Temptation of Christ (Scorsese, 1988); The Passion of Christ (Gibson 2004); and, Son of God (Spencer, 2014).
The differences between the three films reviewed in this paper are perhaps best articulated in the genres chosen by each of the directors. Scorsese’s work, which was an adaptation of Nikos Kazatzakis’ novel of the same title, would qualify as a Hollywood biopic, presenting a Christ tortured by God. In a way, this is not surprising because the director is known for these type of anti-heroes - those caught in the web of human failings, torn between their passion and beliefs (see, for instance Taxi Driver and Raging Bull). There was an objective: to resolve what it must have been like for Jesus as a human who was struggling with his divinity and his humanity. Throughout the film, Jesus was depicted as a Messiah who constantly questioned and doubted. The primary thesis was that Jesus was human and must have grappled with human frailties because - it is assumed - that it was part of his purpose.
In order to resolve Scorsese’s goals, the director had to answer Jesus’ initial attitude towards his divinity and how he came to terms with it. In the process, he had to break away from the traditional tone and setting of previous Jesus-films. For instance, in his depiction of one of the temptations, the devil was presented in a suit that somehow resembled a modern-day CEO or even a preaching evangelical. In addition, Scorsese also had to create scenes