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Film, Faith, and Cultural Conflict: The Case of Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ Hardcover – September 30, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0275973575 ISBN-10: 0275973573

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Editorial Reviews


"Riley's illuminating study of public disputes and private agendas surrounding the release of the film The Last Temptation of Christ merits serious consideration today as secular and religious world views clash in postmodern society. Riley persuasively argues that victimage is alive and well in North America, and that disputes over media depictions of religion can shake the foundations of liberal democracy as they nurture distrust, misunderstanding, and even unfair criticism. Thanks to Riley for helping us to see the larger issues at stake in seemingly parochial culture wars about religion and the media."-Quentin J. Schultze Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences, Calvin College

Book Description

Fresh insights reopen the debate surrounding Scorsese's 1988 film, the surrounding controversy, and its volatile reception.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275973573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275973575
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,461,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christine Hoff Kraemer on November 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book employs a complex rhetoric of scapegoating to describe the interaction between religious progressives and religious conservatives during the controversy over the film _The Last Temptation of Christ._ I initially skimmed it over with interest and some sympathy. It makes a fairly decent case that even if Scorsese saw the film as a vehicle for a positive expression of his religious beliefs and not an attack on the religious right, both he and Nikos Kazantzakis (the author of the original book) intended to tell the story of Jesus in a way that more or less ignored orthodox theology. I have to agree with Riley that there is an implicit attack on the religious establishment there.
As I read the book in more depth, however, I was less impressed -- the argument becomes overblown in the details, as when Riley asserts that "[t]he film's victimization of traditional Christianity is made apparent when nonconforming images and ideas about Jesus are placed in viewers' minds, thus erasing or displacing conventional associations and references" (49). Exposing people to alternative religious ideas and interpretations "victimizes" them?! What an insult to believers' intelligence and the strength of their faith! Powerful as art can be, I hardly think a single viewing of a film should be able to "corrupt" (if challenging people's beliefs can be considered corruption) a solidly established faith. To argue that LToC victimizes conservatives is as absurd as arguing that _King of Kings_ or the other great epics victimize liberals, or that street evangelism from both the religious left and right victimizes the other. (Notably, Scorsese himself confesses to being a tremendous fan of Biblical epics; Riley acknowledges this but does not explore its implications.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Movie Gal With a Brain on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Christian, I found "The Last Temptation of Christ" compelling, faith-affirming and moving. As a UCLA Film Student at the time of its release, I found the controversy surrounding its production and release fascinating. Recently, after reading Thomas R. Lindlof's riveting book "Hollywood Under Siege: Martin Scorsese, The Religious Right and The Culture Wars," a secular account of the film's history, I decided to seek out a book about the film written from the perspective of those who were personally and spiritually hurt by the film. I ordered this book and Larry W. Poland, Ph.D.'s "The Last Temptation of Hollywood." Riley's "Film, Faith and Cultural Conflict" arrived first. On the down side, it was over $30. The up side - it has turned out to be one of the most outlandish, outrageous, pretentious, absurd, ignorant and hilarious reads I've had in a very long time.

Author Robin Riley is listed as an Assistant Professor of Electronic Media in the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. The deeper I got into this train-wreck of an analysis on "Last Temptation" through the Riley's concepts of "scapegoating," the funnier the title "Assistant Professor of Electronic Media in the College-Conservatory of Music" became. By the end I had to own up to my mistake in dropping $30 on this thing. I mean, should I have really expected intelligent, sophisticated religious, artistic and social commentary on the most controversial film of all time from an assistant professor in electronic media from a college-conservatory of music?

Riley lacks a fundamental understanding of both the history and meaning of the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Bateman on March 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books written on the intense and volatile controversey surrounding Scorceses's masterpiece the Last Temptation of Christ. It deserves to be studied and debated because as of the opposition currently to Mel Gibson's the Passion of the Christ film. This book is a direct reply I would say to Larry W. Poland extremely biased book The Last Temptation of Hollywood. The protest against this movie will shock you and it will make you think. Now we can all view this masterpiece in a stellar DVD produced by Criterion. Read this book to get the lowdown on the fantastic opposition from Christian zealots and see the movie for the greatest artistic expression ever produced on film.
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