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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
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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