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Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

Cast: Ted Neeley, Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, more...
Director: Norman Jewison, Norman Jewison
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Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Musicals
Running Time: 107 min.
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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This title is currently out of print.

The second Biblical epic to be turned into a musical by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, this box-office disappointment recounts the last week in the life of Jesus Christ in rock-opera format and from the surprising point of view of Christ's betrayer, Judas Iscariot. Carl Anderson stars as Judas, who has begun to believe that Jesus (Ted Neeley) has sold out and started buying into the mythology that's quickly springing up around him. Particularly disturbing to Judas is the relationship between Jesus and his friend Mary Magdalene (Yvonne Elliman), a prostitute. When Jesus throws a temper tantrum at the moneylenders in a temple, Judas determines to work with the Pharisees who want to put Jesus on trial as a false prophet. Following his success with the adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof (1971), director Norman Jewison experimented with a hippie-influenced sensibility on Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). Among such touches are depictions of the cast arriving via bus to mount the show, modern high-tech weaponry in the hands of the ancient Romans, and on-location filming in Israel. ~ Karl Williams, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Great musical by Texan99 September 4, 2010 - 6:46 PM PDT
An extremely moving rendition of an old favorite of mine that I'd listened to often from the age of 14 on, but had never seen performed dramatically. The mixture of ancient Holy Land with modern anachronism, and of realism with stylization, worked very well for me. It's become a cliche of modern literature that the characters of Judas and Satan are more interesting than those of Christ and God; Tim Rice certainly brought that now-conventional attitude to his treatment of the Gospel. Luckily he did it without sourness or resentment. Rice's luminous treatment of Jesus resists any easy conclusions about Judas's worldly wisdom in seeing through his hero's explosive ministry. Judas embodies the mainstream modern approach of valuing Christ for his admirable social prescriptions while casting an uneasy eye on his ambiguous claims to divinity. Judas feels he has to betray Christ in order to preserve the sociological and political goals that seem more important to him. As soon as he's done so, however, he shows what his choice has really meant to him by killing himself. Tim Rice famously ended his story with the Crucifixion rather than the Resurrection, but Judas's final song (addressed to Christ in an afterlife) finds the author still wrestling with the suspicion that something more was going on here than some old desert politics and the death of a charismatic, enigmatic man. The final scenes just about wrung me dry, though they were staged quite discreetly.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.84)
56 Votes
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Golden Turtles!
forget the Oscars! they get it wrong nearly every year. this is my list of best U.S. and best non-U.S. movies for every year back to 1930. (some years have no winners). my rules are a little different than the Academy's.
The Post Modern Musical Film
Contemporary Musical Cinema

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