Jesus Christ Superstar
Last night the movie Jesus Christ Superstar was on, so I watched it with the kids. The first time I ever saw this movie was when I was about nine I think. Mom read in the local tv listings that it would be shown late at night, so she made my brother stay up to tape it on our Betamax. It was summer time so it was okay. The next day, my brother told me what a strange, but interesting movie it was and that I should watch it. So I did.
If you've ever watched JCS then you know how dated the movie is. There are hippies everywhere: long hair, beards, beads, halter tops, bare footed dancing . . . I was a little grossed out at first. But I really liked the music, and I was strangely pulled in by Ted Neeley (Jesus) and Carl Anderson's (Judas) phenomenal voices, and the wonderful, effective way in which they portrayed their roles. Of course, the music was great too. By the end of the movie I was in tears. We've all heard the story of Jesus dying on a cross, but seeing it was something else. It moved me, it changed me. I felt a sort of devastation and loss that seemed beyond me to understand.
I think the thing that is so effective about the movie is how Jesus is allowed to show anger. Something about that made all his pastoral scenes of quiet forgiveness and healing so much more effective. Another thing I love is how they had Jesus speak in parables: Put away your swords! Don't you know that it's all over? It was nice but now it's gone. Why are you obsessed with fighting? Stick to fishing from now on!
Did you know Ted Neeley originally wanted to play Judas in the stage version of JCS? He ended up as Jesus's understudy for a while before he took the lead role in a Los Angeles production. He has a vocal range that many rock vocalists covet. The only other male singer comparable IMO is that of the late, great Steve Marriott.
Now someone tell me if this is a real fact: did Ted really take all the lashings in the whipping scene? My brother always said he wouldn't let them fake it. If you watch that scene, it looks very real, but at the same time what kind of movie producer would let an actor endure such pain? It could have killed the poor guy!
No matter what your beliefs are, this is a beautiful movie. It is well acted, well directed, well sung. Some people love it, some hate it. But it holds that magic ability to make us think far past the ending credits.