Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

Description[from Freebase]

Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1973 American film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera of the same name. Directed by Norman Jewison, the film centers on the conflict between Judas and Jesus during the week before the crucifixion of Jesus. Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson were nominated for two Golden Globe Awards in 1974 for their portrayals of Jesus and Judas, respectively. Although it attracted criticism from some religious groups, reviews for film were still positive. The film opens with a group of actors arriving in the Holy Land in a bus and preparing for the filming of Jesus Christ Superstar during the overture. Judas is sitting on a hill watching Jesus surrounded by followers. Judas is worried about Jesus' popularity — he is being hailed as a God, but Judas feels he is just a man, and fears the consequences of their growing movement ("Heaven on Their Minds"). The other disciples badger Jesus for information about his plans for the future, but Jesus will not give them any. Mary Magdalene tries to calm Jesus by dabbing cool water on his face ("What's the Buzz?"). Judas' arrival and subsequent declaration that Jesus should not associate with Mary dampens the mood.

Review

I’ve never seen Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell on stage, and while I appreciate the desire to spread the word of God via mass media (especially if it involves singing), I’ve just never been able to get into these overwrought productions (see also Hair), especially if they were made in the 1970s.

WhileSuperstar is a period piece set during the last weeks of Jesus’s life, it also contains strange anachronisms like guns and cars — designed to tell us, presumably, that Jesus’s works are still relevant today. But it also misses the point on a lot of those lessons — why, during his rampage against the money changers, is he destroying the stands of people selling glassware and vegetables? Thou shalt not eat greens? Hmmm.

Overall: Some good songs, some interesting choreography, and some utterly forgotten actors.

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