035th ed. Anniversary
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The international hit musical sensation GODSPELL comes to life in this exhilarating screen adaptation. An updated interpretation of the Gospel's lessons filled with unforgettable song and dance numbers, GODSPELL is rousing entertainment in the tradition of the classic rock operas Hair, Tommy, and Jesus Christ Superstar. John the Baptist (David Haskell) gathers a diverse band of youthful disciplesto follow and learn from the teachings of Jesus (Victor Garber, Titanic). They form a roving actingtroupe that enacts the Parables through the streets and landmarks of a brilliantly photographed contemporary New York City. High-spirited music, including the smash hit song Day by Day from Oscar(r)-winning lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Original Song Colors of the Wind and Original Score, Pocahontas, 1995) and show-stopping dance routines contribute to this superb family entertainment.
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
- Trailers for Bye Bye Birdie and Oliver
- Musical Number Highlights: Direct Access To Musical Numbers
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The music..fabulous. Robin Lamont and Lynne Thigpen were fantastic.
I recall being bowled over when I saw this film just by chance during a 'snow day' at a New York high school where I was teaching at the time. I had no previous experience of it because of having seen and greatly disliking 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. Why did I respond so positively to this film? It was the wonderful music that drew me into the story and to this day I still put on the CD to listen to it from time to time. Many of the songs are excellent: romantic to the core. Visually the story counterpoints the most local run down urban areas with the most glamorous and overpowering scenes of 'the city of man.'
In short, as music, it is a wonderful experience; as picture, it is at times creatively overpowering; as gospel story, it uses the back door to remind us that there is still something there that can be of import even in these post modern times. Along with 'Oliver', 'Hello Dolly' and 'West Side Story' It is one of my favorite movie musicals.
This may be the best soundtrack for any musical lyrically. Every song is catchy and passionate.
The film was shot in New York City in 1972 and the twin towers of the World Trade Center(still under construction at the time) form the back drop and, at one point, the stage for this rapturous story. In one scene, the cast dances atop the dizzying heights of one of the towers, making those of us with vertigo cringe. The sight of the towers is also a little sobering, given the events in the decades since this film was shot.
Aside from the emotional lift I get from this film, it is full of rich symbolism. One example is the setting,for much of the action, of a stark, abandoned and ruined church, whose church yard has been converted into a junk yard. The cast paints a junk car, the church and each other with bright colors and symbols of hope and joy such as stars and rainbows. This reminded me of St. Francis of Assisi rebuilding the ruined church of his home town as he inspired the poor of his city from dispair to faith and hope. As the movie progresses, the group revisits the church. Each time the church is more beautifully painted, until, when the group gathers there for the last supper, it glows.
The cast is marvelous and incredibly convincing. They project joy and enthusiasm like no other cast I've ever seen.Victor Garber is absolutely the perfect Jesus. He is beautiful both spiritually and physically and his face glows with an amazing innocence. The clever use of his dark blond hair in an afro style causes a halo effect in many sunlit scenes, further enhancing his unrivaled performance. This effect, along with his beautiful skin, angelic looks, beautiful voice, sweet personality and very fine acting make him born to play the part of Jesus. Between musical interludes he relates some of the most important of the parables. Miracles are avoided in this version and prove unnecessary in telling Christ's wonderful story.
This is a version of the book of Matthew that I can identify with. The more I watch it the easier it is for me to follow the ideals of Christ. It reminds me to be the change I want to see in the world and to live each day, no matter how difficult, with joy. Just one problem-I can't find a church that lives up to the ideals I find here.
I feel that the scene of the crucifixion is a little weak compared with the rest of the movie, but the final scene, when the group carries the body of Christ back into their lives in a busy New York City, is a strong message of what is expected of the faithful.
THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE!