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Godspell (1973)

Godspell: A Musical Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew (original title)
G | | Musical | 31 May 1973 (UK)
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An adaption of the musical, in a modern-day song-and-dance recreation of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Director:

David Greene

Writers:

David Greene (screenplay), John-Michael Tebelak (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Victor Garber ... Jesus
Katie Hanley Katie Hanley ... Katie
David Haskell David Haskell ... John / Judas
Merrell Jackson Merrell Jackson ... Merrell
Joanne Jonas Joanne Jonas ... Joanne
Robin Lamont Robin Lamont ... Robin
Gilmer McCormick Gilmer McCormick ... Gilmer
Jeffrey Mylett Jeffrey Mylett ... Jeffrey
Jerry Sroka ... Jerry
Lynne Thigpen ... Lynne
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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:

The Gospel according to today. See more »

Genres:

Musical

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew | Spanish

Release Date:

31 May 1973 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Godspell See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,300,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" everyone except Jesus jumps into "The Angel of the Waters" fountain, also known as the Bethesda Fountain, in New York City's Central Park. "Bethesda" is a reference to a pool described in the Gospel of John that is supposed to have healing properties. 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

Jesus: Now, do you know what the seed is?
Katie: A baby!
Jesus: [imitating her] Wrong!
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

All For The Best
(uncredited)
Written by Stephen Schwartz
Performed by Victor Garber, David Haskell, and Company
See more »

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User Reviews

Of Two Godspell Farewells
16 April 2003 | by pirate1_powerSee all my reviews

The hit Broadway musical Godspell was a contemporary adaptation of episodes from the Gospel According to St. Matthew. In 1972, its original Producers, Edgar Lansbury, Stuart Duncan and Joseph Beruh, decided to bring the Stephen Schwartz/Jon-Michael Tebelak musical to the screen themselves, with a view toward maintaining as densely as possible the artistic integrity of their original stage version.

That said, the film version merits special reference in light of the recent deaths of two of its principals: David Greene, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay, with Tebelak; and actress/singer Lynne Thigpen, who was a member of the 10-actor ensemble cast of the film.

Set in a New York City not yet recognizable to a generation destined to grow up in the shadow of 9/11, Godspell the movie is highlighted with spectacular moments that are best described as incredible. Its expanded opening number begins silently on the Brooklyn Bridge, as David Haskell, portraying both John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot, walks into the heart of Manhattan, hoping that his fellow New Yorkers will indeed "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Jesus, portrayed by Victor Garber (who had a tremendous singing voice in those days), is depicted as a kind of manchild/Superman icon, determined to save the world through his ministry of three years. The ten actors then cavort across the screen over the next 95 or so minutes, telling parables in a raucously funny, delightfully rockin' manner.

In its final sequences, however, the film turns understandably dark, as Garber/Jesus confronts his ultimate destiny. Before long, the epic Finale, in which Garber, tied by his wrists to a chain-link fence, depicts the Crucifixion in horrifyingly simple terms; all the while, the other nine actors scream horribly as the rocking Schwartz score howls to its otherworldly symphonic conclusion.

With the coming of the dawn, the actors carry off their "dead" leader and vanish into the maelstrom of Manhattan, in a closing image that will shake you to its foundations, even as you groove to Paul Shaffer's awesome keyboard action during the expanded end-credit sequence.

The present generation knows Lynne Thigpen as a brilliant actress/singer and performer whose subsequent knack for portraying motherly or grandmotherly roles was no doubt spawned by her experience in the Godspell movie. To a whole universe of kids, however, she will always be known as simply "The Chief." If you were, as I was, a regular viewer of PBS Kids' Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and its eventual spinoff, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, you need not be made familiar with the Chief. She was tough, motherly, no-nonsense --- but she knew how to teach fans a thing or two, whether it was the power of geography or the realm of history.

Director David Greene, who died at the age of 82, was the fellow responsible for bringing the spectacular images of the Godspell film to the screen. It remains perhaps his most famous such feature, the only one wherein one could suggest that he was properly in tune with the youth of the 70s. Perhaps, even now, it is this that causes most folks to compare this film against Norman Jewison's film version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Both films, frankly, are what they are. No more, no less.

Enjoy, then, Godspell the movie --- but remember that you are also witnessing the blossoming of two of the unique talents who brought it to life: David Greene, director; Lynne Thigpen, star. So long, you two. We'll miss ya.


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