I first watched this movie in the late 1990's, 20 years after it came out. At that time, my turnstile record player had gone bust, and I had not heard the concept albumn for years, not having yet bought the soundtrack on CD. I rented this movie from the video store and for the entire time I had it out, I had it playing on the TV continuously just so I could hear the soundtrack. I have always loved the concept albumn for the excellent music and knew all of the songs by heart.
I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, because when it came out, I remembered hearing that it wasn't very good. Watching it for the first time in the 90's, I found it to be a fun reminder of the 70's in its setting, with its theme of a bunch of hippies traveling to the Israeli desert in a bus to stage the story of Jesus.
While I found Yvonne Elliman's over-emoting extremely annoying, I loved the portrayal of Pontius Pilate by Barry Dennem. I also thought the portrayal of Herod by Josh Mostel was absolutely hilarious. Carl Anderson's performance of Judas was memorable.
The first time watching it, I thought Ted Neeley made for a mighty wimpy Jesus. However, as I watched it the second time through, I noticed that in Gethsemane, he grew stronger throughout the course of the song and afterwards was much more self assured and strong in the role. I realized that his portrayal fit the idea of a Jesus who was tortured during his final days by his reservations about going through with the "plan," which is, of course, the point of Gethsame when he asks at the beginning that the cup be taken from him and at the end resolves to drink "your cup of poison" and emerges ready to face his persecutors.
Although I am not religious, this remains one of my favorite musicals because of the music. Fans of the musical will enjoy this version and those who were offended by the musical won't like it. Things can't get much simpler than that.
Jesus Christ Superstar is perhaps the boldest of all musicals made during the last seventy years, even though the story it tells is one that has been told, retold, and read for centuries. The way this show presents its subject material, and context has gotten it banned in a heavily Christian nation in Africa, and scolded by many Christian churches, but this musical has proven appealing to both people of faith, and those without. This musical was ahead of its time, starting an era of adaptation for … more
Pros: music hands down, acting Cons: some scenes may be offensive The Bottom Line: _____________ I'll just start with a spoiler alert, so you have been warned One day Tim Rice had some interesting lyrics that were running through his head so he approached Andrew Lloyd Webber, who put them to music. From that developed a stage play, written by Webber & Rice, which eventually resulted in a DVD version … more
Ted Neeley makes for a wimpy looking Jesus in Norman Jewison's screen adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice "rock opera," which was a smash on stage in the early '70s. Jewison (Other People's Money) adds some good exterior settings in the desert, but Webber and Rice's dialogue-free story (everything is sung, as in a real opera), with its quasi-profundities about the inner demons of principal figures in the life of Christ, is the real hook. Yvonne Elliman sings the show's best-known song, "I Don't Know How to Love Him."--Tom Keogh