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Godspell (1973)
"Godspell: A Musical Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew" (original title)

G  |   |  Musical  |  24 August 1973 (Denmark)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 2,386 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 15 critic

An adaption of the musical, in a modern-day song-and-dance recreation of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Godspell (1973)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Katie Hanley ...
Katie
David Haskell ...
John / Judas
Merrell Jackson ...
Merrell
Joanne Jonas ...
Joanne
Robin Lamont ...
Robin
Gilmer McCormick ...
Gilmer
Jeffrey Mylett ...
Jeffrey
...
Jerry
...
Lynne
Edit

Storyline

A modern-day version of the gospels, opening with John the Baptist calling a disparate group of young New Yorkers from their workaday lives to follow and learn from Jesus. They form a roving acting troupe that enacts the parables through song and dance, comedy, and mime. Jesus' ministry ends with a last supper, his Crucifixion in a junkyard, and, the following morning, his body being carried aloft by his apostles back into the world of the living on the streets of New York. Written by Steven Dhuey <sdhuey@mail.soemadison.wisc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

GODSPELL spreads its joy to the screen See more »

Genres:

Musical

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

24 August 1973 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Godspell  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,300,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a letter published in the Dec. 6, 1972 issue of Variety, director David Greene wrote "Tebelak and I are enjoying an ideally smooth working relationship... but he is not co-directing the film with me. He did not write the screenplay. He participated only minimally in pre-production planning and discussions, and attended very few rehearsals." See more »

Goofs

At the end of "All For The Best", Joanne moves her arm the wrong way and quickly corrects herself. See more »

Quotes

Merrell: There once was a king.
Everyone: Yeah yeah.
Merrell: Who decided to settle accounts with the men who served him.
Everyone: Yeah yeah yeah.
Merrell: Well at the outset there appeared before the master a man whose debt ran into the millions.
Everyone: What?
Merrell: I said the millions!
Everyone: Whoa!
Merrell: Since the man had no means of paying the money the master ordered him to be sold to meet the debt with his wife.
Everyone: Whoa!
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits include an infinity frames effect. A sixteen second film of a busy street is shown, and then the right and bottom of the frame is frozen in a sideways capital L. This then becomes the frame for the next iteration of the film, which in turn leaves its right and bottom edges as a frame for the next film. Over the frames and film are played thumbnails of the actors, then credit cards and finally a credit scroll. See more »

Connections

Referenced in iZombie: Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Save The People
Music by Stephen Schwartz
Lyrics by Ebenezer Elliott (uncredited)
Performed by Victor Garber and Company
See more »

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User Reviews

Godspell great music great message!
22 March 2005 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Godspell reminds us of a culture long gone, peace demonstrations, flower power, "big hair", bright colours, folk rock music, and loud expressive clothing. These are the props of choice the directors use to communicate the gospel message. The film itself is dated now but viewed in the context of early seventies culture it contains a powerful and relevant message that impacted on a searching audience.

Godspell was conceived by John Michael Tebelak, who upon reading the gospels discovered joy, - "Joy! I found a great joy, a simplicity" However a visit to a church to experience this joy was totally disappointing, he knew at once what he must do.

Tebelak brings his discovery alive by way of the gospel of Matthew; his set is central New York City, a place over flowing with people caught in the hustle and bustle of daily routine. Out of the crowds he separates his cast, setting them free from the mundane routines of daily inner city life. They come together at a fountain where they frolic in the water seemingly without any care for the routines they have left behind. John played by David Haskell baptises each one in turn, Jesus played by Victor Garber appears and he to is baptised, rising from the water complete with superman tee shirt symbolically marking him as "master". The cast then is set apart as the "masters" disciples as each receives the symbolic mark of Jesus with face paint. Together now, dressed in flamboyant opp shop clothing, vibrant colours, face paint and "big" hair they have developed a sense of community that stands out in this over sized set, they have become a band of disciples.

The band proceeds through the empty city stopping at significant landmarks to play out messages from the gospel. These messages are focused on the teachings of Christ mainly through the parables, interestingly the disciples participate in the teaching, this gives a sense of inclusiveness that draws the audience into the message. Most of the critical points of the gospel are covered, such as Gethsemane, the last supper, the betrayal, and the crucifixion which at first seems a little bizarre but it also gives one a sense of participation and connectiveness, however the resurrection is left out. Their teaching is supported by the use of song and music, mime and dance, coupled with comedy; this blend achieves the joyful portrayal of the gospel that Tebelak desired.

The portrayal of Jesus as a clown may have been offensive to some, however this reviewer found it to be refreshing, the clown communicates joy while communicating the seriousness of the gospel message. He reminds us that the gospel is a message of great joy and humility, love and peace, of triumph and victory. However in saying that there are some aspects that don't fit with our understanding, for instance the betrayal scene, Jesus kisses Judas. Then it does finish with a question hanging over it, that being, why no resurrection scene? Or maybe there was, perhaps the grand finale represents the risen Jesus, carried lifted high into the crowded streets, it gives a sense of inclusiveness, that somehow Jesus lives on in each one of us.

A fun movie that you just have to participate with, and at the same time a serious message is communicated.


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