86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
I LOVE this film! Please give it a chance; you'll be glad.
, September 19, 2002
This review is from: Godspell [VHS] (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.
As happy and carefree as is the first 3/4 of this movie, so is the last quarter depressing and tragic. The inevitable advance toward the crucifixion is heartbreaking as Jesus sits at the last supper with his disciples and then moves to each one with a personal and emotional goodbye. The song, "On the Willows," with its beautiful harmonies will make the tears brim in your eyes. If you can get through this and the subsequent crucifixion without crying, with Jesus dying while his followers writhe and scream below, you must be made of stone. Finally Jesus is gently taken down and laid across the shoulders of the disciples and borne through the empty cityscape.
While there is no resurrection scene, it is certainly implied which was enough for me. The film ends on a hopeful and joyous note, with the disciples singing softly at first and then breaking into "Prepare Ye" and "Day By Day" with mounting happiness and enthusiasm as they move down the street.
Do yourself a favor and also buy the soundtrack recording on CD; you'll want to be able to listen to the music over and over even when you can't be watching the movie. Victor Garber's clear and beautiful tenor voice conveys all of the same emotions as the visuals, from silly and fun to tragic and painful. You can hear the last breath leave him as he softly sings, "Oh, God, I'm dead." Actually, you pick up more subtle emotional nuances from every cast member as you listen. It's best with headphones!! There is an old saying that goes, "God respects you when you work, but He loves you when you sing!" God must love Victor Garber and company very much for this incredible film. Bravo to all involved in bringing this production to the screen and thank you, thank you, Thank You!!
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