Friday, September 25, 2009

Screen Art: The Last Temptation of Christ

From Martin Scorsese's 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ.

Cinematographers have been inspired by classical painting for many years, but this is a prime example of just how influential those classic images can be. This shot is a direct descendant of a 16th Century painting by Hieronymus Bosch, titled Christ Carrying the Cross.

What's most impressive to me, as far as how the painting was replicated for film, is how they managed to fill the shot with actors whose faces are almost as varied and animated as the faces in the painting. Also, you can tell the cinematographer (Michael Ballhaus) used a long focal lens to flatten the depth of the image, simulating the crowded and 2-dimensional layout of the painting.


  1. STILL have to check out "Last Temptation", despite James overhearing two women in a DVD store saying, "That was the WORST movie I've ever seen..." Fuck 'em.

    So many movies, so little time...

  2. It's a very surreal telling of Jesus' story. Works in some ways, not so much in others, but it's absolutely a worthy viewing. And it portrays Jesus, as a character, in much more grounded way. He's not portrayed as this sublime, enlightened being walking amongst mortals. He's just a regular guy who happens to find out he's apparently the son of God. And that seriously fucks with his head. And he wants out of the deal. Pretty fascinating, really. Especially for Scorsese buffs.

  3. Those two were bitches and not women. This is a great film by Scorsese.