Scorsese’s God-Man Complex

Periodically I go through a Scorsese binge, usually exploring the movies in his career I have never seen.  Recently I watched “Kundun”, his little-seen film on the 14th Dali Lama.  A strange topic for the director of “GoodFellas” to explore – but only at first glance.

I see it as a nice companion piece to “The Last Temptation of Christ”, the wildly controversial portrayal of Jesus from 1988.

I know this isn’t a clear and parallel theological comparison, but in both these movies Scorsese depicts the head of a religion (or sect) during a time of intense turmoil.

“Last Temptation” shows us Jesus as merely a man, steeped in humanity and void of divinity – save that which is slowly given to him by God over a process of self-assessment.  It’s the story of Man made God.

“Kundun” shows us the Dali Lama as something much more than a man, filled with a mysterious and unnamed divine essence.  It’s also the story of Man made God.

That Scorsese portrays (at the most basic level) Jesus as a man and the Dali Lama as God is merely a large scale version of what we all do.  We force God to our level and elevate man to God’s level.

But the real Dali Lama is just a man, and nothing more.  Jesus Christ however is God.  And we don’t need to bring him to our level.  He did that himself when he made himself a man, dwelt among us, and gave himself up to bring us to God.  He’s Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He’s the God-Man.

Funny how we switch these things around.