Jesus Christ Super Star

I had this urge this morning to see Jesus Christ Super Star again. How does the Church view this movie? I know there was some controversy at the time, but I don’t know why.

I don’t think everyone understood that it’s actually Judas’s view of Jesus’ life and death for the most part …

and I’m not so fond of the bit in Gethsemane - Jesus saying ‘if I die, what will be my reward’ as if he was doing it for motives of self-interest?!?!

But there’s some great music in it and so forth :yup: :whistle: Most people didn’t have too many problems with it at the time even, I know my parents didn’t and they were devout enough.

From what I recall, the controversy was that the play/film only showed the life of Jesus “the man” - not Jesus, the Lord and Savior. There’s no Resurrection in the film, so to a lot of Christians it was a denial of Jesus’ divine nature.

At least in Mel Gibson’s “Passion,” he did show the Resurrected Jesus in the last momens of the film.

I was just reading the lyrics. I could see how some of the lyrics could be a problem for us Christians. Such as the last supper “For all you care this wine could be my blood” and “he’s just a man”.

I just thought the music was so powerful. I wanted to rent this and show it to my 15 year old daughter, but I don’t want to give her the wrong idea. I can take what I hear and put it with my own faith, because I know the truth. I don’t know if she can do that. I could tell her this was from Judas perspective. The part where they leave it at the crucifixation and no resurection doesn’t bother me. Most passion plays end at the crucifixation.

I wish they could do something similiar again and make it more Christian. Something done with as much passion should be a hit today. We will have to call Mel Gibson and see if he is up for sponsoring the musical.

i recall listening to a cast recording of it during CCD when i was a kid, so unless my CCD program was way “out there” and i didn’t know it, i believe it was considered perfectly acceptable from a catholic standpoint.

USCCB

Jesus Christ Superstar – Screen version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical adds a completely new dimension and drive to the music by virture of a cinematography that enhances the original songs but also threatens to overwhelm them. Director Norman Jewison presents a visual recording, with optical embellishment, of a performance of the rock opera based on the last days of Christ’s life on earth, ending in his crucifixion. Entertaining as musical theater, it can also be seen as a sincere if naive effort to tell the story of Jesus in contemporary musical and ethical terms. Some scenes require a mature perspective. A-III (G) ( 1973 )

you could always rent it or buy a cd of the songs and discuss with her the parts that you find problematic and/or incomplete. i would think those observations of yours would provide several points of departure for an interesting conversation.

even franco zeferelli’s “jesus of nazareth” tv mini-series left out a few of the miracles (walking on water).

Just remember, as someone else posted, it’s JUDAS ISCARIOT’S point of view.

So of course, he’s thinking, 'He’s just a man, " and “Do you think you’re what they say you are?”

**He’s going to have some nasty thoughts about our Lord! ** So of course the musical is “nasty” in places.

We see a little of this in the Scripture, when Judas always seemed more interested in the money than the person.

IMO, Superstar is not a bio of Jesus, but a bio of Judas Iscariot.

If you understand this, you can attend the play and get a lot of good out of it. It becomes a window into the mind and soul of a traitor.

If only Andrew Lloyd Webber and friends would write an equally good musical about Jesus from the point of view of Peter, John, Andrew, or one of the other Apostles who DIDN’T end up betraying the Lord.

There’s always Godspell!

Well put. Thanks Cat. Before today I never realized Jesus Christ Super Star was from the perspective of Judas. I also never even heard of Godspell. I have been trying to get a sample of the music of Godspell, before I rent the movie. I have Blockbuster Online so it is not a matter of wasting my money. I will most likely rent them both.

Thanks to everyone else who responded. You guys and gals are great!

Any insight into Godspell would also be helpful.

Godspell is delightful!

I’ve seen several dozen productions and my daughter was in a production in high school

First of all, it is all 1970s rock music, so if you don’t like that era of rock, then you may hate it. But I don’t like 1970’s rock, and I love Godspell.

Godspell was written by John Michael Tebelak as his graduate school thesis. (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godspell)).

It is based on the Gospel of Matthew. Most of the dialogue is straight out of the Bible, and several of the songs are traditional (ancient) hymns.

Any actor in Godspell gets to memorize a huger chunk of the Bible than most church-going Christians ever learn!

The movie version is pretty good, but different than the stage version. In all versions, Jesus Christ, dressed as a clownish Superman, enters everyday life (in the movie, it’s a big city, in the play, it’s usually a philosopher’s debate), and calls his disciples." I’ve also seen productions where Jesus calls “homeless people off the streets,” “circus people out of the circus,” and “kids off the playground.”

Then Jesus spends the rest of the play teaching them (see Gospel of Matthew) through a series of skits, songs, puppet shows, jokes, etc.

It is all extremely allegorical! The movie does NOT portray Christ as a “clown.” The costume is to symbolize that He appears foolish to the world, but to those who are called to be His disciples, He offers eternal life. He is portrayed always as GOD, not as a silly fop.

In fact, in one production that I saw at a Christian college,they prefaced the play by having a little child come onstage and recite the verse, “Unless you become like a little child, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

If you expect a serious, historical telling of the Life Of Christ, you will be angry. So don’t expect that. Expect a story that might have been written by a very bright little child playing “Bible” in their basement with all his siblings.

There is a crucifixion scene, and then…SOME productions show a resurrection, and SOME don’t. I have seen more productions that show a resurrection than those that don’t. I think that the directors KNOW who will come to see this show (Christians), and they want to please this audience.

I’ve seen the resurrection depicted in different ways in this show. In some, Jesus appears in the last song, to the surprise and delight of the disciples. In others, He bursts through the back door and runs down the aisle, shaking hands with audience members as he makes His way to the stage.

The best resurrection I’ve ever seen was done in a children’s production in Raleigh, North Carolina (it’s a PERFECT play for children, because it’s all Bible verses!). I can’t remember exactly how they did it, but I remember that the disciples carried His body away and wrapped it in their old silly clothing (scarves and hats and vests), and then when they went back to look, all the silly clothing was gone, along with Jesus’s Body. When they looked around, He was standing among them carrying white robes, which they all donned. It was extremely touching and symbolic. 200 children were in this production, and it was the best productions I’ve ever seen. Kudos to a brilliant director.

If you see a production with no resurrection, it is definitely a downer. Just listen to the music–**the resurrection is in the music score ** even if the director chooses not to portray it on stage.

It’s a fun show. For years afterwards, you won’t be able to listen to the Gospel of Matthew without remembering jokes and skits from Godspell. (“But what WILL we eat?!”)

During one part of the show, the script calls for the actors to sing, “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” When my daughter was in the production at her high school, NO ONE, not even the director, knew this song–except her. She had to teach the entire cast “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

Anyone involved in or viewing a production of Godspell WILL meet Jesus one way or another.

My suggestion is, if you can, make sure to see it for the first time from a Christian venue–a Christian college or high school, or a director who is a known Christian.

The movie is definitely OK to watch, too, but it doesn’t show a resurrection.

And yes, it’s a great show to take the kids to, although the ending is really sad depending on 1) how they do the crucifixion and 2) whether or not they show a resurrection. I wouldn’t want to take a child to see a production that didn’t show the resurrection.

Ive always been nervous about Godspell after Superstar. Mom took me to that when I was I guess 11. At the time it made no sense, the story was off somehow, (now I know why) the girl singing she loved Him was a conterversy everyone talked about before we went, the costumes and the whole main song deal Superstar was plain weird, I think I thought the hippies were spacing out, and no talking in the thing. And not to mention they arrived in that bus and left their buddy there after, dead.

:confused: :eek:

It was a movie y’all!!! So of course some creative licenses were taken.

This has been my favorite movie since it came out in the 70s. Even had the poster on my wall as a teenager.I keep the dvd handy at all times. Know all of the songs by heart. I love the scene with Harod! I thought it was great to see the human side of Jesus and the apostles and how overwelmed Jesus must have been at times with the mobs of people pulling at him.

I give it 3 thumbs up! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks Cat!:smiley:

I am going to rent Godspell. I will get my daughter to see it. Depending how she reacts I will then get Jesus Christ Superstar. I like the 70’s music. Can’t wait to see Godspell now. It is funny how I have never heard of this movie.

Thanks Dalesmom. JCS is a great movie. :thumbsup:

Why can’t they do something like that today?:shrug:

Godspell is much better “theologically” than Jesus Christ Superstar…

Andrew Lloyd Webber is a great composer, that’s no doubt… but in my humble opinion that guy’s got some issues (I mean, pay attention to some of the hidden story lines in his plays… very dark). Every single one of his plays seem to have some underlying dark element.
The twisted storyline of Judas being innocent is difficult to reconcile. Great music and movie… just theologically out there.

Godspell, on the other hand, is really a story of the Gospel of Matthew… nothing twisted or odd about it. I think it’s much more enjoyable theologically

Judas has become the patron saint of the unrepentent

Indeed :smiley: I had the privilege of being a performer in my high school’s performance of Godspell, and I absolutely loved it :thumbsup:

I loved Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell!!! But then, I love musicals. Both of these two are very different. While JCS is more about Judas’s perspective, there are some redeeming qualities to the show. Some posters have complained about the song “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” in particular the line where Mary Magdaline sings, “He’s a man, He’s just a man” It was about her total confusion with him treating her differently than any man ever had before and about how unworthy she was…
I don’t know how to love him.
What to do, how to move him.
I’ve been changed, yes really changed.
In these past few days, when I’ve seen myself,
I seem like someone else.
I don’t know how to take this.
I don’t see why he moves me.
He’s a man. He’s just a man.
And I’ve had so many men before,
In very many ways,
He’s just one more.
Should I bring him down?
Should I scream and shout?
Should I speak of love,
Let my feelings out?
I never thought I’d come to this.
What’s it all about?
Don’t you think it’s rather funny,
I should be in this position.
I’m the one who’s always been
So calm, so cool, no lover’s fool,
Running every show.
He scares me so.
I never thought I’d come to this.
What’s it all about?
Yet, if he said he loved me,
I’d be lost. I’d be frightened.
I couldn’t cope, just couldn’t cope.
I’d turn my head. I’d back away.
I wouldn’t want to know.
He scares me so.
I want him so.
I love him so.

As you can see she is acknowledging that he isn’t an ordinary man and she knows that she has changed from their meeting. It scares her because she is used to how she has been treated by men and he doesn’t treat her that way. She also acknowledges that if he said he loved her she wouldn’t know how to take it because she knows who and what she is and yet he treats her as though she is worthy of him even though she doesn’t think she is.

OTOH… Godspell really appeals to my sense of eclectic taste in music. I remember when it first came out the scandal was that Jesus was a mime… a CLOWN! and he is persecuted by modern day authority figures. His followers were pretty much away from the main stream. While this is true to an extent, there are many traditional people that would follow such a movement in modern times not just misfits of society. The music in Godspell is much more in line with Christian and Catholic theology. I can’t really pick out a favorite song because I like most of the songs alot.

I think that at 15 your daughter would be able to handle the theological problems of JCS and the depiction of who Christ is in Godspell. My kids have seen both several years ago… I think in their early teen years. I explained the problems of both and we have had some great talks about both shows. Nobody can dispute though that CAIAPHAS has the coolest voice in JCS!!!

The one thing that irks me is that it contributes to the misconception that Mary Magdalene was washing Jesus’ feet and hair. Mary of Bethany was the one who did this.

Also, from what someone told me years after I saw the play, the apostles were drunk when they woke up in the Garden. “What’s the Buzz, tell me what’s a happening…”

According to a playbill I had when it toured last (with the 56+ year old Ted Neely still playing Jesus) Tim Rice was inspired to write the lyrics when he read “The Life of Christ” by Fulton Sheen.

Ted Neely played Jesus in the JSC that came to our city last season.

My husband saw him. Said, “He definitely looked and sounded old.”

He thought the production was amazing, but it would have been better with a younger actor in the lead role. There comes a time when we all have to move on.

Ted Neely was born in September of 1943. They had a 62 year old man play Jesus? Wow. I thought it was bad when he was 52.

My favorite character in the whole show is Pilate. He had the best lyrics.

Pilate:
All this is new! Respect for Caesar?!?!
Til now this has been noticeably lacking!
Who is the Jesus? Why is he different?
You Jews produce messiahs by the sackful!

**

Pilate:

Behold the Man! Behold your shattered King!

Crowd:
We have no king but Caesar!

Pilate:
You hyppocrites! You hate US more than HIM!!!
**

And my favorite of all:

Pilate:

**
Don’t let me stop your great self destruction!!
DIE if you want to, you misguided martyr!!
I wash my hands of your demolition!!
DIE if you want to, you innocent puppet!!
These verses conveyed that Jesus was responsible for his own death. As he said, “I give my life freely.”**

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.