Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

Well, i have managed to be somewhat productive this weekend. (Icon-making is addictive.)

Saturday i got books from Forbes, as well as my tax forms. After brunch with hedy, she took pictures of my hair. Later i hung out with applejuicegirl and got to be helpful (which i enjoy doing), including [but not limited to] trying to teach her how to juggle (with lots of “Jay says...”) and making her LJ icons.

Sunday morning we went to church and then had brunch and then i researched internships and demolished a small park to print out information and she studied EMT and then we watched Jesus Christ Superstar as our reward. Okay, i say bad things about Godspell because i saw the play first and loved it and then saw the movie and it wasn’t as good, and it ended before the Resurrection. Looking back, i suspect the movie as a whole was rather good, just not as good as the play, and that i am embittered because it omits the Resurrection (which the play ends with). I would have to rewatch the movie to be sure. But Jesus Christ Superstar? Bad bad bad.

Kids getting off a bus? Um, i’m confused. Okay, whatever.

Judas is a black man? Hello problematic racial dynamics. And Jesus is a blonde white man. Is his hair dyed? (His goatee is dark.)

"I've been your right hand man all along." Um, no. I would guess Peter (whom Jesus renamed with the word for “rock” because he was to be the rock of the church) or maybe Paul (founder of what has become the modern church after Jesus’ death), but Judas doesn’t really show up in the Bible except for the whole betrayal thing.

"There is not a man among you who knows or cares if I come or go."
This from the man who always has mobs following him (both in the Bible and in this movie)? I think not.

Judas has issues with Mary... because she’s a prostitute? Oh, because he wants Jesus. Yes, lilithchilde, i’m seeing why you were all about the Judas/Jesus after seeing this. And the hand clasp (with the hand traveling down the arm first) and the lock gaze? Yeah. (Incidentally, Mary is a woman of color, looks Native American to me. Seeing the horde of followers as many different races makes me feel better about Judas being black, because obviously the filmmakers were trying to give it a multicultural feel. But dude, Jesus practically glows white during one of those confrontation moments, and even if they were just trying to do a metaphorical color contrast, you can’t help but have that be problematic: black man villain, white man savior. Also, i can see Mary’s ethnic foreignness accentuating her outsider status, but she is also played up as a beautiful woman, and her prostitute-status is implied, adding to her sensuality/sexuality, so having her be racially exotic on top of that is problematic.)
Woman, your fine ointment, brand new and expensive
Could have been saved for the poor.
Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe
Three hundred silver pieces or more.
People who are hungry, people who are starving
They matter more than your feet and hair.

Surely you're not saying we have the resources
To save the poor from their lot?
There will be poor always, pathetically struggling
Look at the good things you've got.
Think while you still have me!
Move while you still see me!
You'll be lost, you'll be so sorry when I'm gone.
The annointing at Bethany has never been one of my favorite episodes, but i thought surely they could have come up with a better explanation. (And can’t you just see liberals foaming at the mouth? “You just bought a plasma screen TV. You know how many African children you could vaccinate with that money?” “Well I can hardly cure everyone, now can I, so why try?”) *looks it up in Bible*

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
-John 12:7-8

How poignant is that line? “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” And it’s not like it’s telegraphing (as opposed to foreshadowing) since every one knows he’s going to die.

Ooh, and hello making Judas more likable. (Though straight up, i didn’t particularly like any of the characters in this film.) John 12:4-6 states: “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him objected. ‘Why wasn’t the perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Of course, what i find most interesting about that, is that obviously Jesus knew Judas was a thief (because Jesus was God incarnate and thus knew everything) and yet he kept him around. I wonder if any sermons have been done on that. I know there have been ones on Mary-the-prostitute (and of course recently it has come under question whether she really was a prostitute) and Zacchaeus-the-tax-collector (they often over-taxed people to keep the extra for themselves; not well-liked people). [Hmm. I guess the man in charge of the money is pretty durn important, so is that what the writers were thinking of when they had Judas refer to himself as Jesus’ righthand man? Or were they just sloppy?]

Okay, so John’s version is actually quite different from most. He says that they were at the house of Mary and Martha after Lazarus’ resurrection, while Matthew and Mark put them at the house of Simon the Leper, and just say “a woman came” and poured the expensive perfume on Jesus, and then
When the disciples [emphasis mine] saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor will always be with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Matthew 26: 8-13 (Mark 14:4-9 is almost identical)
Interestingly, both those versions follow immediately with Judas leaving to go the chief priests to betray Jesus.

"this film tells the story of the final 6 days in the life of Jesus Christ"
Someone tell me how that “6 days” was figured out. John follows the annointing at Bethany with the Hosanna riding into Jerusalem (Whoa, how did i forget that he rode into Jerusalem? I’ve even heard sermons on the bit about him sending the disciples to get a donkey. Needless to say, in the movie he walks, which admittedly makes for more of a sense of him being close with the people, just like them, not a king above them, etc.) “The next day” and then there are no further time markers in the incidents that follow except that the Last Supper ends after dark (I was so pissed that Peter’s denials are in broad daylight, because in the Bible Jesus does not just say “Peter, you will deny me 3 times,” but he says “You will deny me 3 times before the cock crows” -- and thinking about it now, in the Bible it is the crowing of the cock that makes him realize what he has done, not the admonishments of Mary, though in the movie that allows him to explain what Bible readers must only infer: that now that Jesus is arrested, everyone associated with him fears for their own lives as well.)

Wow, the conversation the 2 Pharisees have ("And Then We Are Decided/This Jesus Must Die") is actually in the Bible. (John 11:45-53) I never remembered reading that. I just knew that Jesus was usurping the authority of the Pharisees and they were upset and wanted him out of the picture. Who knew that stuff like "For the sake of the nation, this Jesus must die" parallels "You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish" (John 11:49)? [Incidentally, the whole “we need to get Jesus away from the crowds, so we can arrest him without interference” gets i think one line in the movie, but it’s mentioned repeatedly in the various versions of the story in the Bible.]

However, the movie eliminates the part about how Jesus knew his life is in danger and thus laid low. In fact, we start off with Judas worried that they are getting too loud and will be crushed (Hello, “mind your place you uppity Negro”), and then we see everyone hanging out in the desert, and then the Pharisees plotting, and then Jesus out in the open -- followed by the moneychangers in the temple (which follows the triumphal entry in Luke).

"Hey JC, JC you're alright by me."

Wow, could you be more condescending? (Though yes i know it was supposed to be a positive, supportive statement.) Also, is this movie responsible for that whole referring-to-“Jesus Christ”-as-“JC”-thing? (Also, the 70s slang often annoys me in its anachronism, but the people calling Jesus “superstar” has got to be the worst.) There’s somewhere famous i heard something like that.... *Googles* Rocky Horror? *thinks* Yeah, that’s it. [Riff Raff: A decision had to be made. Dr. Scott: You're okay by me.]

Okay, i like that they work in the whole "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40) thing, but damn, Jesus feels angry and mean-spirited to me almost the entire movie, including here.

"Sing me your songs, but not for me alone.
Sing them for yourselves for you are blessed"

Anachronistic as it would be, i was expecting the Sermon on the Mount here (“Blessed are the...”).

"Hey JC, JC won't you die for me?"

Love the freeze-frame there. Great moment.

"Christ you know I love you
Did you see I waved?
I believe in you and God
So tell me that I'm saved."

Great commentary, on at least two levels. Though one of my thoughts was “Well really, all you have to do is believe in Jesus and you are saved” -- and i am stopping myself digressing into my personal opinions on salvation and what the Bible says and all that.

Interesting. 4 different people are focused on during "Simon Zealotes": a black man (Simon -- who borders problematically on the animalistic stereotype of black men), a woman of color, a blond woman, and an old man. Christ was all about the minorities, so i like this subtle attention to detail. But, um, how about casting people who actually look Jewish? Especially for, oh, say, the part of Jesus?

Keep them yelling their devotion,
But add a touch of hate at Rome.
You will rise to a greater power.
We will win ourselves a home.
You will get the power and the glory.
Forever and ever and ever

Oh yeah, because clearly, hate meshes so well with what Jesus was all about. I had to laugh at Simon’s foolishness. And ha, you think you can guarantee Jesus power and glory and everlasting fame with your plans. Did you miss the part where he’s God?

So of course i liked Jesus’ reply:
Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty thousand,
Nor the Romans, nor the Jews,
Nor Judas, nor the twelve,
Nor the priests, nor the scribes,
Nor doomed Jerusalem itself,
Understand what power is,
Understand what glory is,
Understand at all,
Understand at all.
"Pilate's Dream" Hmm. Interesting interlude. Definitely helps make him sympathetic. "And then I heard then mentioning my name... and leaving me the blame."

Whee, the temple. I knew what was coming as soon as it started, of course. And hello temple prostitutes. (I was ever so pleased that they included them, not ‘cause it was hot, but because they existed and it helps you understand just how much the people had corrupted the temple. *thinks of conversation she was having with carpdeus, which is not to say that the situations are exactly comparable, of course*) And whoa, there was a table with a machine gun.

"My temple should be a house of prayer, But you have made it a den of thieves."

Whoa. First (and only) time Jesus claims Godhood in this movie. Really powerful moment.

Geek who keeps looking stuff up notes that Jesus is quoting the prophets Isaiah (56:7) and Jeremiah (7:11) when he speaks that line.

"Healings" bothered me, because while i understand the frustration of Jesus at constantly being in demand (Mark for instance.. Jesus heals many and then 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” or Matthew 8:18 “When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake” -- incidentally, since Jesus is God-incarnate, he’s the ultimate model for Christians, and here he is repeatedly claiming alone time *waves to mommy*) he’s God; he could heal every human being of each and every infirmity in an instant, with no more than a thought. Well, in my theology anyway. The divinity of Christ is of course a point of contention, and people have argued that his powers were limited when he was confined to a fleshly body. Somehow i don’t think the creators of Jesus Christ Superstar were keen to these theological subtleties, however.

Clearly, we needed that love song. Is it because all movies need a love story or because they felt the PC thing to do was to give the one female a larger part? Yes, i’m annoyed because it’s totally superfluous, and though many argue that Mary and Jesus had a sexual relationship, it’s only in the barest of implications in the Bible and is thus really quite irrelevant to this depiction of Jesus’ last days.

Judas: "I have no thought at all about my own reward, I really didn't come here on my own accord! Just don't say I'm damned for all time!"
*remembers Dante’s Inferno [which incidentally, while a great work in many ways, has only the vaguest relation to Scripture]* Oh, the irony.

"Blood Money" was an okay song. I understand that they had to come up with a way to explain his agreeing to betray someone he cared so much about, and you’re essentially making shit up, since no one in the Bible tries to explain why Judas betrayed him (though the earlier quoted piece from John about him being a thief definitely suggests that at least one of the apostles thought Judas was scum) and they made a good go at it, it just didn’t fully work for me.

"Cash on the nail," huh? A Google search reveals this to be an actual phrase. It must have been done on purpose for effect here, given that it’s "blood money" for a crucifixion.

Also, Judas is chased by tanks, and then he’s at the high priests’ place, and then there are airplanes whizzing over him. Wha happa?

The Last Supper is outside? Okay, so it turns out that it is only Mark and Luke who have an “upper room,” and i get that this was the 70s, commune with nature and all that.

I was annoyed that they didn’t do more of the sacred communion ritual (Funny, because Communion isn’t something i usually feel a sacred connection with when i’m actually doing it.) and that instead it’s mostly just Jesus being angry. (Okay, to be fair, if i knew i were gonna be arrested to be crucified that night, betrayed by one of my nearest and dearest, and that another nearest and dearest would thrice deny me before daybreak, i’d be in a bad mood, too, but The Last Supper is one of the most moving occurrences, and they don’t even try to do it justice.)
Look at all my trials and tribulations
Sinking in a gentle pool of wine.
Don't disturb me now, I can see the answers
Till this evening is this morning life is fine.
Hello, drugged out hippies ;)
Always hoped that I'd be an apostle.
Knew that I could make it if I tried.
Then when we retire, we can write the Gospels,
So they'll all talk about us when we've died.
Touché re: the gospel writers (though i admit i smiled at the biting commentary). No one got into the Jesus game for glory and profit, though, not then. You had to leave possessions and family behind to follow him. Jesus was so opposed to material wealth. You didn’t exactly get a retirement fund. That verse is just full of so much crap.

"Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)"

Okay, Jesus in the Bible wishes he did not have to drink that bitter cup, but this is the song in which i most strongly feel that the films errs too far toward Jesus-as-man, diminishing Jesus-as-God to the point where i think the writers believed Jesus was a prophet of sorts, was a chosen and willing sacrifice (which, i suppose, is some people’s theology).
But if I die,
See the saga through and do the things you ask of me,
Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me, nail me to their tree.

I'd want to know, I'd want to know, My God,
I'd want to see, I'd want to see, My God,
Why I should die.
Would I be more noticed that I ever was before?
Would the things that I've said and done matter any more?

I have to know, I have to know my Lord,
I'd have to see, I'd have to see, my Lord,
If I die what will be my reward?
I'd have to know, I'd have to know my Lord
Why should I die?
Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain.
Show me there's a reason for you wanting me to die
You're far to keen and where and how, and not so hot on why.
Put away your sword

*pouts* I wanted Peter to cut off the centurion’s ear and have “He who lives by the sword, dies the by sword.”

Why are you obsessed with fighting?
Stick to fishing from now on.

As she whispers, “I will make you Fishers of Men.”

Herod, um, wow, he’s trippy. And of course, we remember that Herod has wanted Jesus dead since his birth, and he nicely
There’s definitely some desperation in Herod’s final running after Jesus, "Get out of my life!" and i felt at some moments during the song like he wanted to believe, wanted Jesus to prove he was God (i thought of the temptations of Christ in the desert here). And actually, it’s not so clear in the movie, but in the Bible, Pilate sends Jesus to Herod, and Herod sends him back; Herod will not convict him. (There are really no secular charges against him, but it’s heavily implied that no one wants to kill him, either. I did not reread all 4 gospels in full tonight, so i can’t speak about the specifics of the legalities of the whole thing.)

Okay, so when they push Jesus down the slope into the white sand (and he’s wearing socks, what up?) i thought they were just gonna skip to the post-Crucifixion, and i was pissed, because it loses so much of its power if you don’t see it (though i’ve gotta say, interesting choice seeing the flashes of Passion paintings during Gethsemane) but then it turns out he just got beaten up by the mob. Does that even happen in the Bible? I suppose perhaps it’s implied.
My God! I saw him. He looked three-quarters dead!
And he was so bad I had to turn my head.
You beat him so hard that he was bent and lame,
And I know who everybody's going to blame
And then when we next see him in front of Pilate he has not a mark on him. Good to know someone was monitoring the continuity in this film. *sighs*
I don't know how to love him.
I don't know why he moves me.
He's a man. He's just a man.
He is not a King. He is just the same
As any one I know.
He scares me so!

When he's cold and dead will he let me be?
Does he love me too? Does he care for me?
Clearly, the reason to have Mary’s song, was so that Judas could echo it, because they are they OTP ;)

I saw the tree and thought “Judas Tree” and then thought “What does that mean? How do i know that?” I had totally forgotten that Judas hangs himself. [Matthew actually talks at length about Judas after the betrayal, 27:1-10] And who immortalized that image of the “Judas Tree” anyway? I’m guessing a Renaissance painter, but perhaps it is more modern.

And we’re back to Pilate. You could tell he didn’t want Jesus’ blood on his hands that first time around. He seemed a bit more schizophrenic this time around. (Also, i wanted to see the Barabbas scene. Interestingly, they included “We have no king but Caesar,” which i didn’t even know was part of the happenings until i saw it in my Bible tonight -- John 19:15.)

Also, reading the Biblical accounts... while a bit of a neat rhetorical trick, JCS totally undermines what the Bible says Jesus was, by having him keeping doing that “Your words, not mine” bit, but in the Bible he keeps saying “Yes, it is as you say” -- to the Sanhedrin’s question “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” (Matthew 26:63-64 and Mark 14:61-62 are almost identical, and then there’s Luke 22:70 which is a little different, and then John is heavily different) and to Pilate’s question “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Matthew 27:11 and Mark 15:2 are almost identical, and then there’s Luke 23:3 which is a little different, and then John is heavily different).

"I have no kingdom in the world I'm through. There may be a kingdom for me somewhere. If I only knew." Again, far too doubting a Christ for me.

Pontius Pilate: "And what is 'truth'? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?"
Huh. Interesting. (Personally, i think truth is different from law, and while people may have different truths, i believe in an ultimate Truth.) [Interestingly, John does report (18:37-38) Judas asking “What is truth?” after Jesus says “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”]

Ew, flogging [which i also didn’t remember from the Bible, and which only Matthew and Mark report]. And silent Jesus. I half-expected a single tear like in Glory(?). Whoa, and then Jesus rolls over, onto the sand. That’s gotta sting. Nice touch with Pilate’s bloody hands, the realization is well acted, well directed, and then the literal washing of the hands.
Why do you not speak when I have your life in my hands?
How can you stay quiet? I don't believe you understand.

You have nothing in your hands.
Any power you have comes to you from far beyond.
Everything is fixed. and you can't change it.
I prefer the original “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:11). The Bible emphasizes a lot more that it was all planned, that it had to happen the way it did (Jesus frequently says that he could ask his Father to send a legion to save him, but he won’t ask), and i suppose in the movie we are supposed to know that the people saying Jesus made mistakes are wrong, but i’m not sure. I mean, there are the caricature people along the street ["Tell me Christ how you feel tonight. / Do you plan to put up a fight? / Do you feel that you've had the breaks? / What would you say were your big mistakes? / Do you think you may retire? / Did you think you would get much higher? / How do you view your coming trial? / Have your men proved at all worth while?"], but Mary and Peter also sing "Could We Start Again Please?" I know Mary and Peter are wrong, but i’m not sure if the viewer is supposed to think that.

"Why'd you choose such a backwards time in such a strange land?"
Um, Roman Empire? Pretty influential if you ask me.
Oh, Judas symbolizes the modern (1970s) era. No wonder he was a in a pink jumpsuit when everyone else was in period clothing. I had been confused by that.
I’m still not sure what it’s all supposed to mean. Judas was associated with modernity and he was responsible for the downfall of Jesus, but he gets driven to the Pharisees by tanks... i’m confused.

God, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing.
Who is my mother? Where is my mother?
My God! My God, why have you forgotten me?
I am thirsty
It is finished.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

All i recall from the movie is that first line -- the only spoken line in the whole thing, but he was mumbling softly, so maybe i just missed it. They seem to have combined all the reported words of the crucified Christ and meshed them together.

So, the soundtrack has as a last track, "John Nineteen: Forty One."

Interestingly, my Bible says “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid,” for that verse, but i don’t really remember him getting laid in a tomb at the end of the film (though i do like the sunset behind the empty cross).


Okay, well at least the kids on the bus makes a nice frame. And i guess it’s an interesting idea, modern people going back to watch, to live, the time of Jesus.

I don’t actually like any of the songs in this i don’t think. And Jesus has this annoying high pitch when he yells.

Also, it was all filmed in Israel. I am turning into my father’s daughter, because i realized watching it that it couldn’t have been filmed in the U.S., because we don’t have rocks that look like that. (Also, um, i saw sand getting kicked up a lot, and yet no one was ever dusty. Even when they looked sweaty/oiled.)

This entry got delayed because i was talking about the film with lilithchilde, which led to talking religion, and two and a half hours later.... ;) I know there’s plenty in here that we didn’t talk about, so feel free to take issue with stuff and we can argue again :)
Tags: movies: jesus christ superstar, movies: watched

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    The ASP season for next year came out last Wednesday. At Actors’ Shakespeare Project, it is our practice as artists to listen: to listen to our…

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