Everett Collection

A modern Christ, Lothaire Bluteau hangs on a cross, distant city lights behind him, in Denys Arcand’s 1989 Jesus of Montreal. Bluteau’s character, an actor asked by a church to put on a passion play, creates an interpretation of Jesus’ life based on historical research and not tradition, which scandalizes his employers and eventually ends in the death of the actor, shown robed in the photo on the far left. Based on the belief that history repeats itself, Jesus of Montreal was one of several Jesus movies that stirred controversy in the 1980s. The Last Temptation of Christ, produced by Martin Scorsese in 1988, was another, due to a scene in which Willem Dafoe as Jesus (shown below, talking with Pilate, left, and looking into Lazarus’s tomb, right) and Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene have sex.