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Friday, 10 January 2014

Stale old arguments about Scorsese

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2013
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

10 January

The Times (in an article entitled Cathedral defends showing ‘debauched film of Christ’s life’) reports as follows regarding Bath Film Festival's (@BathFilm's) screening of director Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), based on the book by Nikos Kazantzakis (and with score by Peter Gabriel) :

Members of the congregation have protested that the 12th-century Gothic Cathedral is to be used for an “appalling film” that “tackles the theme of debauchery”

Are they thinking, maybe, of another Scorsese film, Taxi Driver, which certainly does 'tackle' that theme, and appals in its literal sense (from Old French appalir to turn pale) ? Have they seen it, or are they like the protesters (placards saying 'Down with this sort of thing') penned by Arthur Matthews and Graham Linehan in Father Ted, who made more popular, through interest and intrigue, a film that they had not watched, The Passion of St Tibulus from 1995 ?

The appendix of the 1996 edition of Scorsese on Scorsese* (one in a Faber & Faber series to which The Agent is addicted) is devoted to the film. Here are some quotations from a statement that Scorsese made at a press conference :

When I read Kazantzakis's book, I didn't have the feeling that it would be deeply offensive to anyone, especially because I know of my own intent.


Among the boys who I knew when I was in the seminary, one is now the head of an order in Chicago called the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and happens to be a great fan of Kazantzakis's book. And I know that the book is used in seminaries as a parable to argue about and discuss. This is how I hoped the film would be received.


A black minister wrote a letter to the New York Daily News, saying he loved the film, was going to use it as a study guide in discussion groups, and that he felt most of the people talking about the film had not seen it. He said they adhered very much to the word of the Gospel, but not to the spirit.

After the event, read more here about it and the film, if you wish...


* Faber & Faber, London, 1996.

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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