Video Picks Archive

February 22, 2001
This Week's Video Picks
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Reviews by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>

This week my picks are La lengua de las mariposas (Butterfly) (1999 - ) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988 - ).

The first film this week is a touching fable from Spain set during that country's civil war. Newcomer Manuel Lozano plays a young boy who bonds with his liberal schoolteacher (veteran actor Fernando Fernán Gómez) while Franco's fascist regime starts to take over. Butterfly is a gentle mixture of politics and childhood innocence until its devastating finale. Was it all a futile exercise or a difficult lesson to learn about tolerance? The film was controversial in this respect among critics, but the public never had a fair shot to make their own assessment. With its release on video, Butterfly can finally reach a widespread audience, which I hope will accept it.
Full review from August 14, 2000

Now, the temptation was great to make Superfly my second pick, but I felt a thematic link would work better. Martin Scorsese, like Lozano's character, grew up as a lonely asthmatic. He also told a story about a persecuted teacher, except this one was quite famous and the story upset a lot of his self-righteous pupils. Of course, this great teacher was Jesus Christ, and his story was told in The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the controversial novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. This is no Sunday school passion play, but a provocative retelling of the greatest story ever told, starring Willem Dafoe as the reluctant messiah and Harvey Keitel as Judas. Many religious groups were upset by the final sequence, which depicts a vision Christ has on the cross of coming down and engaging in a normal life, including marriage to Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey). In particular, it was a brief sex scene between Dafoe and Hershey that caused the uproar, even though it was only presented as a hallucination. Looking at the film as art, even as religious art, it makes the most powerful statement about the core of Christianity of any film ever made.


For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
La lengua de las mariposas (1999)
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Butterfly (1999) - English subtitles -- VHS
Butterfly (1999) -- DVD
La Lengua De Las Mariposas: Soundrack -- Compact Disc (Import)
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) -- VHS
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) -- DVD
The Last Temptation of Christ, a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis -- Paperback


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