US Edition Cover, May 1971

This cover hints at the lid to the Ark of The Covenant. – Image via Wikipedia

(CARROLLTON) – Today I have decided to review and defend a movie typically NOT lionized by Christians in general: Jesus Christ Superstar.

As a lad (this movie came out in 1971 – actually that was the stage show, the movie was, I think, 1973) I remember the nuns in my grade school briefly discussing this movie. I believe the word blasphemy was thrown around. Naturally, I watched it as soon as I could. The song of the same name had become somewhat popular on the radio, and I remember being struck by certain lyrics. I am writing this from memory – the music was catchy and the lyrics fluid and easy to remember:

Jesus Christ, Superstar, who are you what have you sacrificed? – If someone really isn’t sure what Jesus was all about, this is a very legitimate question and deserves an answer. I think the nuns didn’t like it because the movie does not give any answers.

Every time I look at you
I don’t understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand – This is sung by Judas. Hey, nobody understood Jesus. Not Peter, not James and John, nobody. Certainly they did not fully understand until after the resurrection.

You’d have managed better
If you’d had it planned
Now why’d you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land? – This to me was always a legitimate question. Why then? Of course, whenever it was, that would always be the question. But why then? One has to recall that time period. This was during Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. Understand that while the Romans went around conquering territory, what they really did was bring peace. Under the Roman version of Manifest Destiny, they saw their mission as bringing peace to the world. Areas under Roman Rule were not warring with one another.

If you’d come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication – I remember as a kid thinking “Yeah, really! What a strange time to come!” But, in view of my above comments, in reality, this was a perfect time. Rome built roads. Roman citizens, such as Paul of Tarsus, had free passage to large parts of the world. In earlier times, or in later times, Christianity probably would  not have spread like it did. I’m not saying it couldn’t, I’m just saying I think I know why then.

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you’re what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you’re what they say you are? – These are legitimate questions. It would have served the nuns well to pose these questions and have discussion about the answers to them, as the answers are known.

That’s the limit of what I had memorized. But Wait! There’s More!

Tell me what you think
About your friends at the top
Now who d’you think besides yourself
Was the pick of the crop?
Buddah was he where it’s at?
Is he where you are?
Could Muhammmed move a mountain
Or was that just PR?
Did you mean to die like that?
Was that a mistake or
Did you know your messy death
Would be a record breaker? – These are very real questions, especially from the standpoint of someone who knows nothing about Christ. Solid legitimate questions, they go unanswered in the movie.

Other issues revolve around the tragic figure of Judas and the sympathy shown him, and then there are doctrinal issues especially concerning the Last Supper. Alas, I have run out of time for this post, and will try to take this up later. And many were scandalized by the sexual overtones in the portrayal of Mary Magdalene. The song she sings deserves some reflection as well.

It is an interesting exercise to watch this movie, and then another day to watch The Passion of The Christ.

Uh, come to think of it, the transition from the whipped Jesus in dirty robes into pure white suggests the resurrection.

Read Part 2 of this review>


6 responses to “LENTEN MOVIE REVIEW

  1. Pingback: The Value of Weakness | Leadership, Behaviors, and Success

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  4. Pingback: Jesus Christ Superstar « Earthpages.ca

  5. Reblogged this on The Spiritual Advocate and commented:

    A Lenten Movie Review, from 2011 of a 1973 Movie


  6. Pingback: An Embarrassment of Riches | The Spiritual Advocate

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