Sunday, July 17, 2005


After listening to the soundtrack for this musical for years, I finally found a copy of the movie version- at the Athens-Clarke Library of all places! It was well worth the wait. The musical is based on a roving troupe of performers who run around New York City following Jesus and acting out the parables. The whole thing is based on the Gospel according to Matthew. There is plenty of dancing and singing as well. I admit it was a little campy and upbeat, but this was the late 60's and its just so much fun. One of my favorite things about it was Jesus as a hippie in a Superman shirt and rainbow pants (complete with suspenders). Very much born again Christianity 60's style.

I have to admit that this is unlike anything else I like, but having grown up with the movements that sprang out of this movement, such as Happening, this really spoke to me. Its one of those fun things you either get or you don't.

Many people have tried to compare Godspell to Jesus Christ Superstar. But there is no comparison. The two movies/rock operas are from very different ends of the spectrum. Both very real and very relevant, but very differnt. If I were to compare it to anything it would be the Cotton Patch Gospel. Although the latter is not a musical the two share certain other similarities.

Technically the movie was excellent. The acting,singing, and dancing were supburb, and as a result of this movie many previous unknowns went on to lead distinguished careers (even though they did not become superstars). Of course the songs are well written and the concept is excellent. Some of my favorite songs are Save the People and Alas For You. The directing and photography was also excellent, particularly for a seventies movie. I loved the colorful costumes, and the scenery. The business was above par. Instead of having the actors simply milling about the set, they were actually doing something realistic looking.

The two most contreversial problems with movie are the call to "drink wine" in Light of the World and the non-resurrection. As for the former, whatever your particular view on the theology and morality of drinking wine it is scripturally clear that both Jesus and his desciples drank wine on a fairly regurlar basis, so this is not an entirely unlikely call. As to the lack of a resurrection, I don't think this was really ment to be an theological descion, in fact it seemed like he did rise. It seemed like things happened to fast for it to be obvious.

All in all I highly recomend this movie, both for those interested in musicals and for Christians looking for a good movie for their next youth group meeting or retreat. Better yet buy the book and put on the play yourself. Its a timeless classic sure to attact new fans for years to come.

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