Sunday, April 08, 2012

A vintage soundtrack for blasphemy and heresy


My first Easter post touched on, among other things, José Saramago's 'heretical' novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ and the presence of closed files on intercultural advocate Ramon Pannikar held by the Vatican 'doctrine police', the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Now the path of blasphemy and heresy takes us on to Nikos Kazantzakis' novel The Last Temptation of Christ and the 1988 film based on it directed by Martin Scorsese - see header image. Kazantzakis' controversial novel portrays Christ as free from sin but subject to other human frailties, and when the book was published in 1953 it was placed on the Catholic Index of Forbidden books by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith while the Greek Orthodox Church anathematized him. The controversy continued three decades later when Martin Scorsese's film adaption was greeted with hostility by right-wing Christian groups.

Doctrinal disputes aside, one of many notable things about Martin Scorsese's film is the soundtrack by Peter Gabriel which brings together musicians from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Gabriel developed his original electronic ambient compositions wth contributions from many world musicians into the now deleted album Passion: Music for The Last Temptation of Christ, an album which launched Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on his high profile career in the West. But the film also included original performances by the world musicians and these are still available on a little known but recommended budget priced album titled Passion Sources which was produced by Peter Gabriel. There is a track and artist listing here, many of the names will be familiar to Overgrown Path readers, including the Moroccan band Nass el Ghiwane who featured here recently. Kazantzakis' Last Temptation takes a gnostic view of the life of Christ, which leads to A vintage year for blasphemy and heritage.

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2 comments:

Susan Scheid said...

I loved the book. I will forthwith locate the film and pay particular attention to the score. I hope I won't be eternally banished for this, but I can't help myself here but think of Monty Python's The Life of Brian, and in particular the original on crucifix performance of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Magnificent blasphemy and heresy in its own right.

sfmike said...

My only real complaint with the movie was the casting. Did we really need another skinny, blonde guy as Jesus in the person of Willem Defoe? Max von Sydow was bad enough in "The Greatest Story Ever Told" back in 1965.

And Susan, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is genuinely holy in its utter blasphemy.