Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

Director: Norman Jewison. Cast: Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman. 108 min. Rated G. Musical.

An incredible accomplishment. The story of Jesus, predominantly a tragedy, becomes an exhilarating and charming Hollywood remake of a Broadway musical. The opening and ending scenes, picturing an acting company arriving and leaving the desert for the show, offers some cushioning effect for those who may be offended by a musical adaptation of the Christ story, justifying that this is just a play - or maybe claiming the whole event is just a play. But the more subtle undertone is the interspersed images of the Arab-Israeli conflict, mainly critical of the Israeli side, while Jesus preaches a message of peace.

(Disclaimer: No, I haven't become Christian. I'm attending a workshop held at Stanford University by the great Iranian filmmaker, Bahram Beyzaei, on the subject of "Cinema and Mythology". The Gospel According to St. Matthew and Jesus Christ Superstar were the homework he gave us to watch for this week.)

Mo says:


  1. I haven’t watched such sad musical stage play so far . It nicely shows sometimes even music,song and dance is totally unable to decrease the sad effects of same tragic story in mind and sole of audience ,no matter Christian or Moslem they are,the tragedy is tragedy and always will impress the most in any kind of language it's expressed. Also an interesting perspective to Judas was seen in this play, he had a deep concern to Jesus not just as a villain who betrayed him for money, for that philosophic concern he felt about personality's change in Jesus,something is going wrong in him and then he should stop it was so new pov toward Judas'deed for me,haven't heard about.
    PS: Whenever you had time tell us about that workshop. Sounds interesting.

  2. Interesting ... because my perception was exactly the opposite! :-D I was thinking how the musical made this tragic story so joyful! How subjective art is.

    PS: Beyzaei's workshop was incredible. A two-hour class every Friday night in Stanford, each session discussing a famous movie (he had given us a list beforehand), where he discussed how the movies we see every day (from "Metropolis" to "East of Eden" to even my beloved "BladeRunner") are actually modern versions of myths, including religious stories, created by humans thousands of years ago. I was able to attend 6 of the 10 sessions. I know you would have loved to been there.

  3. You’re exactly right. Attending in such workshops’ is a dream for me!.
    How interesting is including East of Eaden as a sample in this workshop…probably because of showing narrow border between light and dark and focus on how they overlap each other when we have no idea about that moment at all!..I love the movie as a beautiful work but it has just a delicate look to its 3 vol,novel from an angle which is favorite of Kazan and Dean is master in that. It never showed main character of book (Keith: Their mother) as a real devil and one of the most horrible villain (with its own logic of course!) whom can be imagined as a woman .The novel is an incredible work of such fight between good and bad in American literature that I was serious fan of their simple and pure and honest writing when I was reading a lot in the youth!.

  4. I haven't read the book, and the workshop was an excuse for me to watch the movie for the first time. The movie correlate to Torah/Bible/Quran stories is the story of Adam: The father priest was Adam, Dean and his brother were Cain and Abel (Habeel and Ghabeel - Dean eventually causes the spritual death of his brother), and the mother who owned a brothel was Eve. The brothel is a good metaphor for the heavenly forbidden fruit, which is "knowledge": God tells Adam to stay away from the fruit/knowledge to keep him ignorant and stupid, but Eve invites him to taste the fruit and learn about the forbidden taboo. In other words, females are defined as the source of learning the unknown.