Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

The Last Temptation of Christ Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    The crucifixion is the strongest such scene of all time. [26 Aug 1988]

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Here is a film that engaged me on the subject of Christ's dual nature, that caused me to think about the mystery of a being who could be both God and man. I cannot think of another film on a religious subject that has challenged me more fully. The film has offended those whose ideas about God and man it does not reflect. But then, so did Jesus.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    Mr. Scorsese has created a Judea that is dusty and harsh, where visions in the middle of a night seem like. Some of the visual compositions are dizzyingly beautiful; the Crucifixion scene couldn't be more masterful, or heartbreaking. [11Aug 1988, p.1]

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    Dafoe manages to draw us into the mystery, anguish and joy of the holy life. This is anything but another one of those boring biblical costume epics. There is genuine challenge and hope in this movie. [12 Aug 1988, p.A]

  • 90

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Sheila Benson

    It would seem impossible that anyone looking into the heart and the clear intent of the film would fail to see Scorsese's passion for his subject. And if our world is becoming so dangerously constricted that we're forbidden even to look, that is something we should all worry about. [12 Aug 1988, p.1]

  • See all The Last Temptation of Christ reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Controversial epic with brutality, sex. Mature teens only.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Last Temptation of Christ is based on a novel (thought to be radical by some religious institutions) by Nikos Kazantzakis, published in 1953. The author departs from the traditional gospel story of Jesus Christ and his disciples. Because of that, when it was released in 1988, there was considerable controversy about the film's portrayal of Jesus and some elements of the story (Jesus's self-doubt, confusion about his role as the son of God, his sensuality). Other long-established orthodoxies were challenged as well (depictions of the disciples and Mary Magdalene). The film has many graphically violent scenes and no shortage of blood, brutality, screaming anguish, and death. Frontal nudity, both male and female, appears in a number of sequences, sometimes paired with frenzied sexual activity. Many scenes may be disturbing to audiences of any age and are not meant for children.

  • Families can talk about the brutality in this movie. How did it make you feel? How do you determine when a film is too violent?
  • How was this portrayal of Jesus different from others you've seen? In what ways did this Jesus seem more like a real person? Why do you think the filmmakers made this choice?
  • This movie had staunch critics who wanted to prevent its release and later protested in front of theaters. What do you think they objected to? Define "censorship." How do you feel about it?

The good stuff
  • message true5

    Messages: The movie dramatizes many themes and messages that are key parts of being human: embracing love as a guiding light, refraining from judgment, and emphasizing the importance of compassion, justice, and sharing. The constant challenges of self-doubt and fear also are dealt with.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Despite his moments of self-doubt and often erratic behavior, Jesus is portrayed as selfless, brave, compassionate, and wise. This film attempts to endow Christ with human traits as well as the divine. Judas is a heroic character, as opposed to his usual assignment of "betrayer." It's set in the Holy Land, and background players, as well as some principal players, reflect the dark-skinned ethnicity of the area.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: No holds barred in this representation of Christ's violent world. Characters suffer at the hands of their fellow man: multiple incidents of stabbing, crucifixion, whipping, and stoning. Blood flows in many scenes; nails are pounded into flesh; characters die in anguish. Christ pulls his heart from his body. Screaming in response to torture and agony is heard frequently.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Frequent nudity and sexual activity. Full frontal nudity (both male and female) is shown in several scenes, bared breasts in many. In one lengthy sequence a woman performs sexual deeds with a series of men, witnessed by a large audience. Frenzied sensuality (dancing, reveling) fills the screen upon occasion as an example of "the flesh" that Jesus is exposed to. Jesus is seen naked from behind and, in a hallucinatory moment, engages in sex with Mary Magdalene. No actual intercourse is shown, but suggestion of such activity is clear.

  • language false0

    Language: Not applicable

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Historical characters occasionally consume wine.