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Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

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

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Carl Anderson ...
...
Mary Magdalene
...
Bob Bingham ...
...
Simon Zealotes (as Larry T. Marshall)
...
King Herod (as Joshua Mostel)
Kurt Yaghjian ...
...
Peter (as Philip Toubus)
Pi Douglass ...
Apostle
Robert LuPone ...
Jonathan Wynne ...
Apostle
Thommie Walsh ...
Apostle Thaddeus
Richard Molinare ...
David Devir ...
Apostle
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Storyline

Based on a concept album project written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and the subsequent long-running Broadway performance, this film tells the story of the final 6 days in the life of Jesus Christ through the troubled eyes of Judas Iscariot. Too often mis-labeled a musical, this film is a "rock opera." There are no spoken lines, everything is sung. Written by Ralf Southard <rps8@psu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

and now the film... See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Musical

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 August 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jesucristo Superstar  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$13,200,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| (35 mm optical prints)| (35 mm magnetic prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A totally new song was written especially for this feature, "Then we are decided", where Annas and Caiaphas discuss the threat of Jesus and decide to take it up with the council. It was never used in any production again. See more »

Goofs

During the crucifixion, the sun casts shadows both behind and in front of the cross. See more »

Quotes

Jesus: My God! My God! Why have you forgotten me?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Room 237 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

The Temple
Performed by Ted Neeley, Crowd, and Lepers
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User Reviews

 
Andrew Lloyd Webber's signature piece!
22 January 2004 | by (Washington, D.C.) – See all my reviews

This film represents all that Andrew Lloyd Webber is capable of: taking an old and complex subject and using a stellar rock score to look at it from a modern perspective. How strange it is that the most powerful epic of Christ's life should turn out to be this rock opera. This is probably because the main characters are expressed in modern terms of thinking. The best aspect of this film may be its portrayal of Judas Iscariot. Many films have tried to find a reason why Judas betrayed his master and mentor for thirty pieces of silver. However, all of them have been pretty much making up their own stories: Judas wanted to get Jesus

to use his powers against the Romans, Judas wanted to save his family. All

these have been just very big guesses. However, this film is probably the

closest to the truth about Judas. His reason is a more psychological one. He is simply worried that Jesus' teachings will get him arrested by the Romans, and that they will be turned into propaganda, like they are today. He is also just doubtful that Jesus is the Messiah (wouldn't you be if someone told you?) Jesus himself is portrayed as a dedicated spiritual leader, and his followers are looked at largely from his and Judas' perspective. The scene with Simon Zealotes, with followers throwing themselves at Jesus' feet in the dust is meant to make them look almost pathetically worshipping this man. To Jesus, his own Apostles are like children, pestering him about what his plans are for the future. Then, of course, there is the film's portrayal of Mary Magdalene as Jesus' lover. As she rubs ointment on Jesus' feet, you can sense the deep passion moving between

them. Jesus is human, and must, therefore, love. The priests and pharisees are shown as worried about Jesus' influence, fearing it will turn into a revolution, and Pontius Pilate is shown as a faithful politician, trying to do what is right, but pulled away from it by the people demanding Jesus' death. Just the title of this movie is enough to put some people away from it. But the title makes Jesus more modern, because, probably to people at the time, Jesus

seemed like just a passing fad. Maybe this was what Jesus thought too. In this respect, Jesus may have had doubts about whether he could really make any

difference, and if he would be remembered, or if his followers were really just hungry for the next big thing. The film's setting in the Israeli ruins gives the film an almost surreal look, which is furthered by the design of the film, a stark mixture of ancient and modern, which is so well done it is sometimes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. This serves to point out the similarities between then and now. The film's greatest point moves through the score and the cast. Carl Anderson makes Judas almost unplayable by anyone else. Ted Neeley, while his voice

may not be perfect, has an amazing delivery, and brings new depth to Jesus

with his rendition of "Gethsemane." Yvonne Elliman is remarkably soulful as

Mary Magdalene, and Bob Bingham's low, gravelly bass voice cuts chillingly

through the more serious scenes, helped along by Kurt Yahjigan's falsetto as

Annas. Barry Dennen is a remarkable Pilate, and Josh Mostel makes King

Herod, the Jewish puppet ruler, look remarkably petty and foolish, yet funny in his ragtime burlesque style song. The film also contains Andrew Lloyd Webber's richest score, especially at the end, bringing out the suffering of Jesus. The sound distorts the soldiers laughter, mixing with the vultures crying, and the cross creaking, the hammer pounding in the nails, and the rattle of dice as they gamble for Jesus' clothes, and the sobbing of Mary Magdalene. Jesus voice

remains normal, and his death ends the film, making this, in my opinion, the

most powerful and moving and maybe most accurate version of the Passion.


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