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.

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Paramount Releases “Hugo” Making-of

No doubt this little making-of doc is a bit of Oscar politicking, but the movie is worthy.  “Hugo” is a Martin Scorsese love letter containing layer upon layer of cinema parallels so organic that one can’t imagine it coming to fruition in a way less perfect.  Screenwriter John Logan explains some of these parallels beautifully at 4:55 in the video.

Scorsese famously lost out during Oscar season year after year for pictures now seen as important and iconic – “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull”, “GoodFellas” to name a few.  The curse lifted when “The Departed” took home Best Picture and he won Best Director in 2007.  That’s certainly a well crafted film, but it still feels like the Academy was compensating for poor choices in the past.  How ironic and wonderful would it be to see Martin Scorsese find victory with a “children’s film”.