Jesus Christ Superstar

Year: 1973
Director: Norman Jewison

Summary: Film version of the musical stage play, presenting the last few weeks of Christ’s life, told in an anachronistic manner.

Times Watched: Dozen times or more

My Experience: I watched this a lot as a kid just to hear the music, a couple of times as an adult. I saw the live play with the original cast as a kid, and I saw a local production of it as well. I’m ambivalent about the movie itself. Hippie Jesus is funny, as is high-pitched, goofy King Herod, but it’s slow at times. When they’re not singing, it’s not the best moviemaking.

The music on the other hand is still amazing. Carl Anderson owns every scene that he’s in. “Heaven On Their Minds” and “Strange Thing Mystifying” are powerhouse numbers. Yvonne Elliman’s ballads are pretty great, too. While Webber and Rice get a bit too cheeky with their songs at times, I think they pretty much nail it with this musical. It’s raw and powerful, and left a lasting impression on me.

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5 thoughts on “Jesus Christ Superstar

  1. Well, huh, I think I watched this movie more times than Castaway. And yes, the music is timeless, not to mention that a certain unnamed Dad of yours used to imitate King Herod which was quite funny. . . you should ask him for a repeat performance. John and I have some good friends who have never watched it, so hope to watch it with them in March sometime before Easter. Have you ever watched the modern remake of it (I think the stage play was done in 1999 or 2000?). Anyhow, loved that one, too, and I have it on DVD if you want to borrow it.

  2. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s last name is “Lloyd Webber,” not “Webber.” The more you know~!

    ALW is an enigma…adored by casual audiences, and openly mocked by musicians because his themes replay over and over and OVER in his shows. This is the one show of his I always dug, which I now realize is mostly due to Carl Anderson, though there are some decent songs throughout.

    I saw this tour in the late ’90s. Neeley and Anderson starred. They were too old to do it, but we ate it up. Anderson was the size of a Sherman Tank. I met him afterwards and got an autograph; I never woud have recognized him on the street.

    Neeley looked exactly the same. He didn’t even look any older.

    They did this at my college one summer; I stage-managed (I hadn’t auditioned because I expected to be out of town for the summer, which didn’t end up happening). My close friend Bobby played Jesus, rather well. Our Judas, also a good friend of mine, was fine. Probably better than fine, but it’s hard not to compare him to Carl Anderson.

    • Sadly, on the day we went, Anderson was out sick so his understudy was in. He did fine but, ya know. And yeah, Neeley looked like he did in the movie twenty years earlier.

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