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Jesus Christ Superstar

             In 1969 Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber wrote the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The story depicts the last seven days of Jesus" life as seen through the eyes of Judas. In 1973 it was made into a feature film staring Ted Neely as Jesus, Carl Anderson as Judas and directed by Norman Jewison. The film tells a liberal version of the last days of Christ combining gospel fashions with that of 1970's clothing, machine guns, tanks, airplanes and modern dance all done in a desolate desert setting. .
             The film's use of modern-day images as a way of symbolizing the relevance of the Biblical story, while updating it for modern audiences seems to take away from the realism of the story. For example, the Roman soldiers wear modern-day Army uniforms and carry machine guns, while jet planes soar overhead to represent "angels" during the moment when Judas betrays Jesus. Although it is clear what the director is trying to emulate, the seriousness of the scene may gets a little jumbled for some viewers when depicted in this context. .
             The serious context of the story may be further confused by the combination of time lines. The beginning of the film shows the cast members arriving at the site of the film on a bus, and the film ends on a solemn note as the cast boards the bus and looks back sadly at the cross they've left mounted. These scenes are meant to tell the audience that the film is not the "literal" telling of the Gospel story, but it is almost certain that it has caused many viewers to scratch their heads in confusion. Many movie goers probably asked themselves what a bus load of hippies had to do with the last days of Christ, yet others may see this as a brilliant way of relating the story of Jesus to modern day people. Costumes, scenes and props aside, what is really powerful about this film is the portrayal of the characters, the music and lyrics. .
             In this adaptation of the greatest story ever told we watch as the characters of Jesus and his disciples and friends come to life through music not as the stale characters from the Bible but as living human beings with real lives, hopes, dreams, fears, and aspirations.

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