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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
One thing to keep in mind is that this movie is told in presentational form, where the audience is acknowledged and talked to. The actors in the movie are playing *actors*. The movie is meant to be understood that the people in the movie are *actors* acting out the stories. Once you get this, it's a very entertaining movie with great songs, dancing, and creative ways of modernizing some aspects of the Gospel without completely changing the message. I suggest getting it if you enjoy musicals in general, or if you're looking for a good alternative to Jesus Christ Superstar.
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.
My favorite part of Godspell is the music. I love almost every song. "Save The People," "Bless The Lord," "By My Side," "Beautiful City," "Day By Day," "Turn Back, O Man" are just some of the classics that appear in this film, sung with an exciting innocence, and staged somewhat inventively, especially the "All For The Best," number.
The cast is great - fans of ABC's "Alias" television series will be shocked to see Victor Garber as an Afro'd Superman shirt singing Jesus. I know I was! The great Lynne Thigpen, sadly passed away, gets a great rollicking number in "Bless The Lord," and the rest of the cast is entertaining as well in their own ways.
So this movie may not be for everybody - if you don't think you can handle a movie based on Bible parables, then don't bother buying this. But I suggest giving this a try - I did, and it turned into one of my favorite movies.
I love most of the musical numbers, except for "Alas For You", which scared me when I was a kid... but, I'm over it now. No, really, I am. :)
There aren't too many bonuses on the dvd (which is my reason for four stars instead of five): a couple of short text bios of a few of the stars and some trailers of the movie. The scene selection choices were well done, so if you have one favorite song from the movie, you can go straight to it.
The only two stars from this, that I know of, that have had a long lasting acting career, are Victor Garber who plays Jesus (I still can't believe this is the same guy that plays Sydney's father on Alias) and the late very great Lynne Thigpen.
Out of my dvd collection, this one has the strangest list of foreign language subtitles: English, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. I'm guessing the movie wasn't all that popular in Europe.
Soooo, when you feel sad or under a curse, this movie should definitely lift your spirits. Enjoy!
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent! My brother was in the play in university. It is a family favourite!Published 23 months ago by Michele Syms
The movie is so creative in how the director used ( at the time), life around them to incorporate it into a more modern telling of Jesus, and his disciples journey through his... Read morePublished on June 27 2014 by Mgb
I have looked for a decent copy of this musical/movie for awhile and was glad to find that this is a good copy of the show and fulfilled all of my expectationsPublished on June 19 2014 by dmg1350
My absolute favorite telling of the Bible. It is timely and fun. I know and sing along with all the songs.Published on May 16 2014 by Lorraine Burge
Great movie, Great deal. Came in four days... Exactly what I expected. A real classic. Need the DVD because my VCR finally died and I can't get a new one....Published on May 9 2014 by David E. Pritchard
Great film - still makes me laugh and sing along!! Will use some of it for school reflections and I'm sure the kids will get a kick out of some of the antics.Published on March 7 2012 by urspenguin
Touched my heart and soul. Kept me there through the whole movie. Highly recommended for all ages and secular aduiences. YOu don't have to be a church goer to enjoy this movie.Published on March 21 2009 by Smylie
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