It's possible that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber originally intended their de-theologisation of Christ quite seriously, in which case they were probably nonplussed by the way the stage show generated a pop version of 'religious' awe, like an updated Miracle Play. But the whole thing was out of their hands by the time it came to the movie, and so here the contradictions are writ very large indeed. Jewison ranges a ten stone weakling Christ (Neeley) against a powerhouse black Judas (Anderson), resurrects the latter rather than the former (in a Sly Stone jumpsuit, yet), and still manages to send audiences into transports of spiritual exaltation; the final credits roll in hushed silence. Despite the 'impressive' desert locations and an array of tanks (to represent the ills of modern militarism), it's still staged like a student revue. Most notable moments are the garden of Gethsemane scene, where Jewison cuts in leering Pharisees and crucifixion details from Flemish masters to supremely kitschy effect, and the scene of Christ being flogged, shot in sadistic slow motion.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Norman Jewison, Melvyn Bragg|
Larry T Marshall