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.