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Godspell (1973)

Victor Garber , Lynne Thigpen , David Greene  |  G |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (281 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen, Katie Hanley, David Haskell, Merrell Jackson
  • Directors: David Greene
  • Writers: David Greene, John-Michael Tebelak
  • Producers: Edgar Lansbury, Kenneth Utt
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Thai
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 4, 2000
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (281 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767827929
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,096 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Godspell" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Trailers for Bye Bye Birdie and Oliver
  • Musical Number Highlights: Direct Access To Musical Numbers

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Comparing Godspell to its near-contemporaries Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair is unavoidable, but Godspell has developed its own unique following. With their thrift-store-meets-circus-performer garb, the characters in David Greene's adaptation of the popular off-Broadway production may look more like the hippies in Hair than the biblical personages of Superstar. But Godspell isn't really about the "Age of Aquarius," nor does it adopt a dark or operatic tone towards its subject matter, the Gospel according to Matthew. The mood is, instead, upbeat and uplifting (at least until the crucifixion sequence).

The film opens with youthful city dwellers from various walks of life dropping their activities to follow John the Baptist (David Haskell from the original New York production). They sing ("Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord") as he leads them into a fountain where they are (metaphorically) baptized. There they meet Jesus (Victor Garber). Frizzy hair and mime makeup aside, the handsome young Garber (Titanic, Annie) is convincing in his film debut. Once baptized, they follow him around various scenic New York locations, singing and acting out passages from the Scriptures.

The largely unknown cast is talented and charismatic, but the film is only fitfully engaging on an emotional level because only Jesus, John, and Judas (Haskell again) emerge as distinct characters. Stephen Schwartz's pleasing pop-rock score, however, helps to smooth over the rough spots, and Robin Lamont's hit version of "Day by Day" remains a highlight. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Description

Victor Garber, David Haskell. The Gospel of Matthew is enacted in modern-day Manhattan in this lavish and endearing smash Broadway musical. Features the hit songs Day by Day, Light of the World , and many others. 1973/color/105 min/NR/widescreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still fresh and fun after 30 years November 13, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This colorful hippie romp through the Gospel According to Matthew is a classic for kids of all ages, with its attractive, talented cast, and Richard Heimann's wonderful cinematography, with great vistas of New York City as the backdrop; many have the eerie beauty of the World Trade Center as its focus, with one scene taking place on the roof of one of the towers, with the city spread out beneath it.
The music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz are delightful, though my favorite song, "By My Side", was written by Peggy Gordon and Jay Hamburger.
The comedy is broad, and of the many parables told, the story of the Prodigal Son is hilarious, using clips from silent films to illustrate it.
The energetic, gifted ensemble have a wide range of talents, and though this film did not propel any of them to stardom, some have had good careers (mostly with TV work) since this film was released in 1973, especially Victor Garber, who is so marvelous as Jesus, with his lovely, sweet tenor voice and angular movements, Lynne Thigpen, the effervescent bundle of joy who sings "O Bless the Lord My Soul", and the very funny Jerry Sroka.
As a group, they are all equally strong in their vocal, dance, and comedic skills, and are a large part of why this film works so well.
The Last Supper scene is a great piece of staging, and I especially like the added touch of blessing the bread and wine in Hebrew, and the subtle, though gripping handling of the darker portions towards the end keeps this an excellent family film, as even very young children will enjoy the slapstick humor and clever costumes.
This film is one of the best stage to screen adaptations, and is a jubilant celebration of life and God's love.
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE this film! Please give it a chance; you'll be glad. September 19, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I'm a child of the 60s/70s, you'd think I would have seen this film before 2002! I didn't think I could get past the idea of Jesus with a big afro and clown makeup. As it was, I was on my second viewing of this film before it really hit me. So if you think you don't care for it after the first viewing, try again.
Once you get into the fun, innocent, tie-dyed feel of the early 1970s (or at least when it doesn't jar you so much) you can begin to see Godspell for the brilliant production that it is. The musical score is fabulous and I have heard most of it used in church over the years. The scenes of NYC are both breathtaking and poignant, considering the events of Sept. 11, 2001. And how did they get the streets empty during the daytime?
The cast absolutely shines here. Young, energetic and all very talented. John/Judas is the strongest of the supporting cast members. Some people had a problem with the same actor (David Haskell) portraying both parts, but I see it as an important reminder that no one is all good or all bad; that we all have both John and Judas within us. Each cast member is showcased in one or more of the parables, and they all express their emotions vividly and handle the comedy, along with their musical numbers, expertly. Besides the 70s feel, there is also a strong vaudevillian component (they are clowns, after all) so be prepared.
And then there's Jesus. I can't say enough good things about Victor Garber's AMAZING performance! The young Mr. Garber (later of such films as "Titanic" and "Annie") is almost painfully thin and pale, which adds to the other-worldly quality of Jesus. Yet he comes across as unfailingly human: loving, caring and joyous, but also at times angry, awkward and doubtful as events unfold, a charasmatic leader for his motley band of disciples.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Wonderful Movie April 19, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this film in 1976, and I tried for years to get a tape of it. To me, Godspell was far superior to Jesus Christ Superstar in content and message--and as entertainment, too. The superb cast was inspiring and joyful, moving and poignant. I remember being extremely impressed with Victor Garber and David Haskell the first time I saw the film, and I still marvel at their performances today, particularly Haskell's. It once "bothered" me that the characters of John the Baptist and Judas were played by the same person, but now I see the reasoning behind that: we are all capable of good and evil. Our good deeds can be easily eclipsed by the ill which we also do. At any rate, those of you who love good modern theatre, who are willing to be inspired, and who enjoy stirring music and performances will love the film version of Godspell.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Religious Musical Ever! February 24, 2000
By Ryan
Format:VHS Tape
I am in a production of "Godspell" myself at my high school as John the Baptist. The movie was the perfect way to really see how David Haskell performed it. Not only that, but the power of the final scene made realize just exactly what I'd undertaken. The music, the characters, and the scenery made this a very moving show. The only bad comment that I would have to make is that the sound quality on some of the songs deteriorates, which made me a little edgy. However, I cannot believe that someone could call it a mockery of the New Testament. I consider it one of the best. Suddenly we can see Jesus, in a modern-day situation, and relate to him. The songs add more brilliant color to the movie, with songs varying from jubilant (Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord), to sad (By My Side, On The Willows). I would say that even if you aren't a religious person, the music and the acting is worth watching.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent if old production. My vintage
Thoroughly enjoyed stepping down memory lane. A moving production that has very nice musical items that can tug at the heart.
Published 5 days ago by Michael N Thrush
5.0 out of 5 stars my grandchildren love it and sing it
great for reaching kids (and adults) in learning the lessons of the gospels..
It is a bit off the wall if you are looking for the history of Jesus.. Read more
Published 10 days ago by marla presby
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-time favorite
I've loved this movie for many years; I've known it since I was a teenager, and have most of the music memorized. Read more
Published 18 days ago by MTSOfan
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Godspell.
I have enjoyed the film since its first release. Had difficulty getting copies of it for several years. I am glad to see that it is available again. Read more
Published 19 days ago by THOMAS J WILLIAMS SR
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie for all time!
The DVD arrived on time and well-packaged. I have seen this movie several times - great movie and fantastic music! It makes the Gospel stories rock!
Published 19 days ago by Patrice M Kelly
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique and fun DVD
The musical is good with many fine arrangements. The overall presentation just misses being a top musical. It seems to be a poor copy of "Jesus Christ Superstar. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Harry Steltmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
This interpretation of the Gospel of St. Matthew is really good. I love the music and the performances are spirited and lively. Read more
Published 1 month ago by itsme
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie
funny, music is good. acting is funny. different offbeat tale of jesus. Still a positive message is brought across. its a feel good, get a laugh movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by alfred
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime!
I have always loved the music from this, but had never seen the film. Sublime! Happy, happy :) Highly recommend.
Published 1 month ago by Anthony Dickerson
5.0 out of 5 stars A rock opera about Jesus!
We wish it was more totally accurate Biblically. Beyond that, it is an aid to worship in the parts where it is accurate! Has great songs!
Arrived early in great condition!
Published 1 month ago by Jay Willis
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