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 <email@example.com>
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 »
The story of "Godspell" is not one of the Christ's Passion, it's not about the angst among his disciples or the sexual tension he had with Mary Magdalen. It's a positive story focusing on Jesus' teachings and parables, told in a lighthearted way, with some outstanding music and spectacular location photography (particularly in the song "It's All for the Best").
While the hippie-like costuming and the semi-clown makeup seem to outrage some folks, and are admittedly dated today, the movie should be looked at in the context in which it was created. Jesus, in the eyes of those in power during his life, was a radical extremist and a threat to the status quo. He taught lessons of love, empowerment, inclusion, justice--well, you get the idea. Hippie clowns were the logical vehicle to present those lessons at the time "Godspell" hit the big screen.
But when you get past the period set and costume design, and to the basic show, "Godspell" is a wonderful entertainment. First, and most often mentioned by everyone, is the amazing location photography. You have to see it to appreciate it. Next is the music. Although the most commercial song in the show is the repetitive "Day by Day," the one song that most people remember from "Godspell", there are many beautiful melodies. My favorite is "By My Side", the only one with the music NOT written by the composer, Stephen Schwartz. It has beautiful harmonies, and Katie Hanley does a great job on lead vocal. The rest of the songs are nearly as good, and all are quite singable.
About the cast: Victor Garber (Jesus) is the most recognizable today, although for years, until her untimely death, Lynne Thigpen would probably have been recognized by more people. Garber has had quite a successful theatrical career, and has appeared in supporting roles in many movies and TV shows. Ms. Thigpen, who was mostly known for her PBS shows, had an award-winning stage career, as well as being very successful on the small screen.
Sadly, David Haskell (John the Baptist/Judas) and Jeffrey Mylett are no longer with us. I won't list the entire cast, since you can find that easily enough (if you're reading this, you probably already have!), but I will say that they ALL sang very well and displayed personalities that made you want to get to know them. The passing of musicals as a staple of the movie studio probably prevented these talented singer/actors from reaching a broader audience. I hope that they've all found success on stage.
At the very least, I hope that they all know how their lively, engaging performances and beautiful singing have brightened our lives. It's been over thirty years since I first saw "Godspell" in the theater, and as I watched it yesterday on cable TV, I was reminded how much that movie meant to me.
And by the way, I'm not a Christian. But if I were, I'd like to be one as portrayed in "Godspell".
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