Directed by: Norman Jewison
Original Music by: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Cinematography by: Douglas Slocombe
Film Editing by: Antony Gibbs
Written by: Melvyn Bragg and Norman Jewison
Starring: Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Bob Bingham
Vintage 35mm print, anamorphic print 2:35:1, 108 minutes
Norman Jewison's big screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstaris a fun film that pulses with a surplus of musical and visual energy. As far as musicals go, it has all the necessary ingredients of success: catchy tunes, fabulous costumes, and great performances by a talented cast. Standouts include Carl Anderson as Judas Iscariot, and Ted Neeley as Jesus Christ.
As with the stage production, the film embraces anachronism as a virtue. The all-out effort to mix the fashion and music of the early 1970's with Biblical times translates very well to the big screen. Jewison’s choice to film on location in the Holy Land pays off with spectacular scenery that reinforces a production that could easily have been too “far-out” and collapsed under the weight of its postmodern pretensions.
For all of its non-traditional elements, Jesus Christ Superstarmay be one of the best big-screen treatments of the Jesus story, effectively illustrating how an ancient religion is still relevant in the modern era. Coming two years after Jewison’s triumph with Fiddler on the Roof, a more traditional musical, it’s the work of an ambitious filmmaker always willing to set himself big technical challenges in the name of better storytelling. Jewison takes the opportunity to tell “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and tells it well.