Sunday, April 5, 2015

Everything's All Right Now, Everything's Fine

Today I introduced Precocious Daughter to the awesomeness that is the 1973 film version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

The cast was in Chicago this weekend promoting the new
digital remastering of the film, and one of my childhood friends
went and saw it, and she had her picture taken with the cast (above)
and Ted Neeley kissed her. Jesus H. Christ.
PDaughter loves Andrew Lloyd Webber. She loves Cats. She loves Phantom. But she had never heard or seen JCS, which I've loved since I was about four years old. I typically try to watch the movie, or at least listen to the original album, during Lent every year. But this year I tracked down a copy of the movie on Blu-Ray especially so we could watch it together for the first time.

Holy (pun intended) crap. I love this movie. I mean, Baron Lloyd-Webber and Sir Timothy Rice's composition is stunning, but as a film, Norman Jewison's adaptation is goddamned brilliant. Accounting for the 1973-specific preponderance of bellbottoms and Afro wigs, of course.

Don't you get me wrong.
I loved watching it, as I always do. And PDaughter loved it, too. She was tickled pink to learn that King Herod was played by Josh Mostel, because she knows his dad Zero from his role as Max Bialystock in The Producers. She thought Yvonne Elliman's voice was beautiful.

I'm just in awe of this photo.

And perhaps most important, a few hours after we watched it and she'd had a chance to ponder it, she wanted to know more about the story...about why the Pharisees were so hot to crucify Jesus and why Pontius Pilate was so reluctant to do the same.

That gave me a chance to tell her one of the greatest stories ever told. And to explain to her that, completely separate from the religious implications that have reverberated for 2,000 years, this was a story that has shaped contemporary politics, history, literature, and mythology in a profound way.

Her dad took her to Easter Mass this morning. I didn't participate, because I don't do that scene any more and because I thought it a tad bit hypocritical for a couple on the brink of divorce to walk into a Catholic church which in a few months will refuse to acknowledge our existence as anything but excommunicants.

I was happy for PDaughter to share the experience of Easter Mass with her dad (it's been a few years since we've attended). I was even happier to share with her with literary and historical context of the story of the Passion. I think between us, she was exposed to the depth and breadth of this important story today.

And I got to watch Ted Neeley. Because...damn. Jesus.

I hope you all had a great Easter/Passover/Spring day. Whatever makes you sing, you know?

1 comment:

  1. This brings back memories of my parents playing the original soundtrack on a road trip. I lay in the dark backseat and was enthralled. I made them play it twice more and then when we got home took the tape and listened to it incessantly in my room. Among other things it filled in gaps I had never learned in Sunday school. And it started me asking my minister tough theological questions. Was Judas condemned to Hell even though he was a pawn in a larger plan? My parents had seen the original cast perform in 1970. When they went there was a minister outside warning people that Jesus Christ Superstar was an attack on their faith. He kind of had a point.

    Also I love the original but British comedian Rik Mayall is brilliantly sleazy as Herod in a 2000 performance you can find on YouTube.


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