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>
Godspell premiered off Broadway, moved to Broadway's Broadhurst Theater on June 22, 1976, and ran for 527 performances. Robin Lamont was the only player in the original off-Broadway cast, the movie version, and the Broadway cast. See more »
When the troupe is carrying the deceased Jesus around the corner, and the streets of Manhattan are supposed to be vacant, a person walks on a sidewalk in the background. See more »
Now, we know you are an honest man. Give us your ruling on this: are we, or are we not permitted to pay taxes to the Roman emperor?
Why, you hypocrites, I...!
[Jesus and Merrell restrain him]
[to Pharisee Monster]
Show me the money in which the tax is paid.
[the Pharisee Monster spits coins at Jesus, who picks one up]
Whose head is on here, whose inscription?
Well, then, pay Caesar was is due Caesar, but pay God what is due God!
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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 »
Although I have had the soundtrack to this movie since I was a little girl (and LOVED it), I only just rented it and I was pleasantly surprised at how relevant this supposedly "dated" film still seems. In using real NYC locations, this film wisely eschewed a hokey fantasy-carnival setting that the "vaudeville troupe" feel of the stage play might have suggested (and "The Fantasticks" later went with). I was particularly moved by the use of Bethsaida Fountain (recently used in "Angels in America"), and the visual reference to the Statue of Liberty during the line "you are the light of the world." As a "New York movie," this has got to rank right up there with "Annie Hall" or "Moonstruck." While I don't believe that the historical Jesus skipped and bounced when he was preaching, Victor Garber's Christ continues the tradition that Jesus was both human and divine, the incarnation of Love. It's a very thoughtful, nuanced performance. For me, as a twentysomething, it's very moving to see a representation of Jesus around my age (because, of course, in the Bible Jesus disappears between the ages of 12 and 30). And, for the record, the typing of Jesus as a clown dates to the Medieval mystery plays.
I was most struck by David Haskell's performance as John/Judas. This character both loves Jesus best and questions him the most, and in that, I think, represents the polarities of belief that everyone goes through, no matter their faith. Haskell is the strongest singer in the cast and has a sort of smoldering intensity that would not be expected of a young stage actor. The rest of the ensemble makes up in enthusiasm and vocal verve what they may lack in camera experience. They present the parables of Jesus in a way that is easy to understand but not blasphemous... Jesus says "Rejoice" but he makes no bones about the punishment for sin, either. In sum, "Godspell" is campy and dated, yes, but it's altogether a pleasant piece... in times like these, I daresay we need a smiling Jesus more than we need Mel Gibson's bloody, tortured Christ.
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