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

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) epilogue

So, rilkeanheart IMed me a while back and the following is an excerpt from our conversation:
rilkeanheart: I was actually tempted to weigh in on the great Jesus Christ Superstar debate of old
hermionesviolin: You so should! I think that's Allie and my favorite conversation ever of ours, at least LJ conversation.
rilkeanheart: well, Sarah will help me wade through the posts, then, and I'll find it and comment. Or maybe just send you an e-mail without posting it, since it's so old that probably no one but you would read it anyway.
hermionesviolin: Assuming i find what you say interesting, which i imagine i would, i would probably at least alert Allie.
rilkeanheart: um... did you ever catch the fact that even in the movie there *is* a very subtle resurrection scene... at least, it could be interpreted as such.
hermionesviolin: I only saw the movie once, but Allie loves the movie and stage versions of the show and i remember her defending its lack of a resurrection scene so i imagine she never saw anything she interpreted as such. You've got me curious now, though.
rilkeanheart: Well, if you watch at the very, very end, after the bus leaves, you can see the silouette of Jesus leading the sheep. I interpreted that as a resurrection...
hermionesviolin: Oh that is interesting. I'd have to watch it again to decide on an interpretation of my own, but now i'm intrigued.
rilkeanheart: All the disciples, aka, Jesus' contemporaries, left before they could get it... throughout the whole thing they didn't get it, but Jesus does come back and leads the sheep... an obvious metaphor for the way he leads the people...
rilkeanheart: Plus, it's a neat parallel to when Judas runs away and all the sheep follow him.

I IMed Allie, and she said:
lilithchilde: I vaguely remember. *shrug* but it's the movie interpretation and I disagree with a lot of it; I would disagree with that. I don't actually think JCS functions well with the resurrection. this of course is not something we'll ever come to agreement about.
[..]
lilithchilde: yeah, I don't know. rereading our discussion recently only reminded me of how disappointed I was with that film. the extremely amateur and experimental production I saw in London lived up to my vision of the play better than that movie did.

Then rilkeanheart made a big ole post replying to the discussion.

I finally got around to getting the film out from the library so i could watch the end scene. I was reminded of how much i don’t do pain well. At the same time, however, i was frustrated that they seemed to condense Jesus’ suffering and death into about 5 minutes. The lighting was exactly the same, and nothing in the acting particularly implied the passage of time, so it just felt really forced to me.

Looking back at my entry, complained that of the following list of Jesus’ death-utterings i only heard the first one.

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.


This time around, i heard the first, the third (and was surprised that i somehow didn’t hear that the first time around) and the last one, but for the last one i had to substantially up the volume.

After reading rilkeanheart’s entry, i was tempted to rewatch the whole film, but i think opting not to was a sane idea on my part.

The shepherd scene in question? You have this bright sun setting behind a cross, and at least half the screen is just the sand, which is dark ‘cause of the lighting, and if you look close, you can see a silhouette walk across the sand -- but below the horizon -- eventually followed by a sheep. I suspect i didn’t even see this when Allie and i watched the video the first time. If i did, my guess is that i read it as the “Life goes on” attitude already begun with the kids getting back on the bus.

At the same time, i find myself nowhere near as violent as i was on first viewing about the whole lack of a resurrection. Allie argued, "This is an exploration, an open-ended one: these people are not going, in the end, to opine as to whether or not Jesus was really God. They've made it clear that he thinks he is, that others feel one way or the other, but they're letting you draw your own conclusions." And this time around, i’m okay with that. Though as stated above, i didn’t rewatch the movie in full,

For those who don’t wanna plow through the 30+comments, here is the conversation that my "NO RESURRECTION. THIS IS NO GOOD! THE RESURRECTION IS KEY!" reaction spawned:
lilithchilde: This is an exploration, an open-ended one: these people are not going, in the end, to opine as to whether or not Jesus was really God. They've made it clear that he thinks he is, that others feel one way or the other, but they're letting you draw your own conclusions. Yet another thing I love.
hermionesviolin: Without the Resurrection, Jesus was just another nutty Jew.
lilithchilde: I don't think Jesus got Resurrected, and I think of him as more than just another nutty Jew. He was a great man in the truest sense: preaching love and kindness in a world that didn't show him much of either. And he certainly stood out.
hermionesviolin: Was Jesus a great teacher? Absolutely. My point is that if he didn't rise from the dead like he said he was going to, he would have been just another of the many Jews who pissed off the Pharisees and no one would have bothered keeping records of his life and ministry, wouldn't have bothered preaching his message... and we wouldn't know him from a hole in the wall nowadays.
lilithchilde: Well now, obviously I can't agree with that, because to follow your argument backwards: we know about him, because people kept records and preached his message, and therefore he rose from the dead like he said he was going to. We know I don't believe he did. I also refuse to believe that just because the man didn't come back from the dead, his messages couldn't survive. Plenty of people have not come back from the dead, and yet we remember what they said, and they had huge effects on civilization!

As for Jesus, he had some great things to say, some really poignant things that affected people, and also that built upon and were tied to religious traditions that had already lasted for thousands of years. True, this didn't guarantee that he'd be remembered, but part of that is just, in my opinion, the chances of history. He was powerful, and his followers were loyal (or some of them), and he was remembered. The things he said were strong enough that they eventually took over much of the world, in fact. It's the crazy way the world works: things can grow, from one man to a multitude.

I find it all very amazing (partly wonderful, and partly horrifying, since of course certain followers of Jesus have caused many horrific things to happen in his name), and this in part because I don't think he was God.
hermionesviolin: to follow your argument backwards: we know about him, because people kept records and preached his message, and therefore he rose from the dead like he said he was going to.

Point taken. I guess my thought process is that if his followers didn't believe he rose from the dead, then they would have had reason to doubt everything else he said and would likely not have been committed to spreading his message, especially given the risks (though of course this is debateable). (From a PR point of view, much better idea to say "I'm a prophet, hear me speak," than "I am the Son of God; I will die and rise again" as the latter isn't gonna give you any lasting staying power unless you're for real.)

I have interesting See Sharp Press stuff about cannibalism, hallucinogens, paganism, and early Christianity. One of these days i will do enough additional research to write about that.

Plenty of people have not come back from the dead, and yet we remember what they said, and they had huge effects on civilization!

Point taken. But none of them claimed to be anything more than human. Either Jesus was God or he was a raving loony. If someone claims to be from Mars and also says a lot of other stuff that you agree with, you may spread the stuff you believe, but you certainly aren't gonna go around telling people "This guy from Mars told me this stuff. No really. You have to believe me that he was from Mars."

I guess i keep thinking that the original followers could have edited out the part about Jesus being the Messiah, that they could have rewritten it so he was just a prophet. Sure it would have been risky, and they probably would have been branded as heretics... but that's not so different from what happened to them anyway. Would Jesus' words have been preserved if he were just another heretic? There must be stuff written about what it would have cost the disciples to do it differently than they did. (Whether i can find it is of course another matter.) I suspect my father may have some thoughts on this.
lilithchilde: I guess my thought process is that if his followers didn't believe he rose from the dead, then they would have had reason to doubt everything else he said and would likely not have been committed to spreading his message, especially given the risks (though of course this is debateable).
Well, obviously there must have been people who believed he rose from the dead, and I'm certainly not denying that. I mean, that is the basis of the religion. I suppose that you could make this case: because there were people who believed he rose from the dead and was the Son of God, that's why he had staying power. After all, belief is the driving force of these things, sometimes (in my slightly cynical view) more than the reality (or lack thereof) behind the belief. Now that I think about this more, the "accident of history" bit doesn't cut it: but the success of the religion, and the staying power of the man's story, still does not come close to proving to me that he really was who he said he was. It just means that people found him really believeable (which to you could mean that he must have been who he said he was and now I'm going in circles whee) . . . yeah. It's late and I'm losing my point, but I think you get what I'm saying? ^^;

I guess i keep thinking that the original followers could have edited out the part about Jesus being the Messiah, that they could have rewritten it so he was just a prophet.
Well, sure. But I don't think they thought he was just a prophet. I think that the evidence we have indicates they believed in him. I think they believed in him because he had great things to say, and because of all the things I was saying about him before . . . these things about him made them believe his claim as well. Or at least, that's my latest athiestic theory, here. ;)
hermionesviolin: "because there were people who believed he rose from the dead and was the Son of God, that's why he had staying power."

Yup, i think that's exactly it.

And i totally get your going in circles logic.

If he didn't rise from the dead, i can't understand how his disciples would have (A) believed that he did (B) tried to make other people believe that he did. But of course, it's pretty damn hard to understand/believe that he rose from the dead.

So we are at a point of understanding and not knowing and one of these days there will be a post with all the interesting stuff about the Resurrection and the early Church and suchlike that i will have researched between now and then.

*leans back, takes a deep breath, and applauds us*
Of course, this was January of last year and i have done of this research yet. Looking back, i am seriously impressed by our arguments, though. And i still basically have the same issues with Resurrection.

If he didn't rise from the dead, i can't understand how his disciples would have (A) believed that he did (B) tried to make other people believe that he did. But of course, it's pretty damn hard to understand/believe that he rose from the dead.

I so wanna dig up and reread the See Sharp Press stuff i have. And i really need to get a move on this whole Read the New Testament, etc. thing.</blockquote>




"I, Jehudah" is... interesting.
Tags: movies: jesus christ superstar
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