Tag Archive: jesus christ superstar


Live from Jerusalem

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As Easter comes closer, I have to admit I look forward to the annual showing of Jesus Christ Superstar.

I remember when I was a kid and people hated this version of the crucifixion story. It was too secular. The music was loud and bombastic. It seemed to have no understanding of the greatest story ever told. It was blasphemy.

I can’t remember what my very religious grandmother may have thought about the movie. I can’t imagine she was very happy about the movie as she was a bit old fashioned.

Jesus Christ Superstar Ted NeelyI must have known about it because I remember singing the title song and having a classmate tell me I was going to to to the fiery place. Nancy was Catholic and must have heard that from her parents or her priest.

As the years have past and I have seen the movie again. I found it to be heart breaking and beautiful as we walk through the last weeks of Jesus’ life. I always thought that the cast were experimenting with how things happened in that way. I always got the sense that they thought this time it would be different, that they could do this and Jesus wouldn’t die.

Ted Neely was in his prime at the time of the filming of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was young and handsome in that early 70s style. His voice could be gentle and ferocious. The scene in which Jesus destroys the temple sticks out for the anger we seldom ever saw from Jesus. The same goes for the Hosannah scene in which Jesus comes to Jerusalem in triumph.

Later scenes walk us through the various parts of the story in which Jesus confronts his immediate future and what he must do, no matter how difficult. Strangely enough, we never see the resurrection, we never see the next part of the story. It simply ends with the crucifixion and the regret of the remaining characters.

john-legend-sara-bareilles-jesus-christ-superstar-portraitsThis Sunday a new version will be shown live with John Legend in the lead role. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that Legend has a fantastic voice with a great range. His songs have great emotional scope so I feel confident that he can make the role incredible.

These live musical events have been going on for a few years now and they seem to be very successful. It is exciting to see performances in a live setting as you never know what can happen. But the other part of a live performance is that the emotions of the performers are more raw, more tangible.

Because the play was so popular with an iconic performance by Neely, it will be interesting to see how John Legend handles the role. I am also anxious to see Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene and Alice Cooper as King Herod in this production. While not everyone will agree with the rock opera treatment, I find telling this story in different ways brings the story to a larger audience, always an interesting challenge.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Over the past weekend, I was able to go to the play at the Grade School.

I thought the cast did a wonderful job and I don’t say that because my son was one of the pirates. Ok, maybe a little. But the rest of the cast did a great job as well. It was light and fun, a great piece of diversion.

Afterwards, I was talking to another parent whose child loves pirates. I know most people have come to love pirate movies thanks to Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean series.

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Poster Image from IMDb.com

These movies are fun and lighthearted while being action-pack. And then there are the crazy costumes of various characters slowly being turned into creatures of the sea. These are movies best suited for intermediate grade school children because some parts are too intense and too sensual, in my opinion.

Another movie featuring pirates is Jonah: A Veggie Tales This movie features our favorite vegetables is a re-telling of the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. The comic relief comes from the “pirates who don’t do anything” and remind us to laugh during a serious tale. This is a great flick for pre-schoolers and up.

The rest of the week is the end of the Lenten season. Good Friday, and the rain that always seems to accompany it, will be here before we know it. That will be followed by Easter Sunday and the reminder of the Resurrection.

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Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar, Image from IMDb.com

There are several movies that discuss the crucifixion but few that talk about the miracle afterwards. One of my favorites is Jesus Christ, Superstar with Ted Neely in the titled role. I am blown away by the emotional depth and tragic insight of the score by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice throughout.

I know that there are many people who love The Passion of The Christ starring Jim Caviezel and directed by Mel Gibson. The movie has startling beautiful scenes that are reminders of famous paintings and sculptures of various parts of the crucifixion.  But there are also shockingly violent moments that take my breath away as I look on in horror.

This movie is rated “R” for good reason and that does not include “right.” It is for graphic violence. It is not a scrubbed clean version and only the person(s) in charge of the house should decide if children younger than 12-years-old should view this movie.

Have a peaceful Good Friday and a happy Easter.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

During this time of year it is easy to find various religious movies. Or at least it used to be.

Oh, the memories.

Charleton Heston as Moses in "The Ten Commandments," picture from IMDb.com

 The Ten Commandments and Samson and Delilah.  

There are also the movies that weren’t exactly religious but set in the same time period.

Spartacus and Ben Hur

 

Then there are those set in different time periods.

Sidney Poitier in "Lilies of the Field," picture from IMDb.com

Lilies of the Field and Song of Bernadette

 

While we love these, what is called for this time of year are the movies about Easter.

The Robe and The Greatest Story Ever Told.

 

However, in our modern times realism must take precedence.

Jim Caviezel as Jesus in "the Passion of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com

We watch every grisly detail with The Passion of the Christ starring Jim Caviezel and directed by Mel Gibson. This is not a movie I recommend for children under the age of 10 as the violent scenes are intense. You feel every jarring bit and wonder how any man could have taken this. Perhaps that was Gibson’s point while making the most gruesome religious movie I have ever seen.

On the other hand, there are moments of stunning beauty as Gibson recreates well-known artistic tableaux. Not sure that is enough to make me want to watch this movie again.

The Last Temptation of the Christ has also seen its share of controversy.

Daniel DaFoe in "The Last Temptation of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com.

In this movie, we see what might have happened if Jesus came off the cross to live with women and have a family. But we are also given food for thought that Judas might have been in on the plan to betray Jesus. And that the two men might have been the best of  friends.

It is a movie I watch, despite Harvey Keitel’s Brooklyn accent, for the idea that Christ might have been tempted but in the end he still did as he was foretold to do.

Finally, the movie that has become a must see at Easter in Jesus Christ Superstar.  

Ted Neeley as Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar," picture from IMDb.com

I was a little girl at the time the movie came out and I remember how it was considered sinful just to sing those songs out loud. Maybe it was the spectacle, the fact that Jesus dies on the cross and doesn’t have a resurrection, that Judas lives and Mary Magdalene is not a vilified persona.

What I love about the movie is the strong character of Jesus who admits sometimes he is scared or get angry at what is happening around him. That he knows what must happen and yet can’t do damage control with the crowds or the disciples.

None of these movies ever seem to get the whole story right. But how could they?  There is so much to cover and the crucifixion must be one-third of your story. They can never get in all of the parables and the beatitudes, all of the intrigue that happened in front of Jesus or behind closed doors. Do any of these movies contain the episode with Zacchius?

Still, it make me wonder if in hearing only a small part of the story does that lead some to find out the rest of it in the most popular book on the planet. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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