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Godspell
Godspell
Actors: Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen, Katie Hanley, David Haskell, Merrell Jackson
Director: David Greene
Genres: Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
G     2000     1hr 43min

THE LONG-RUNNING '70S STAGE MUSICAL, BASED ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW, COMES TO DVD IN THIS EXHILARATING BIG-SCREEN ADAPTATION. INCLUDES THE HIT SONG DAY BY DAY. SPECIAL FEATURES: SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH, SPANISH,...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen, Katie Hanley, David Haskell, Merrell Jackson
Director: David Greene
Creators: Richard G. Heimann, David Greene, Alan Heim, Edgar Lansbury, Kenneth Utt, John-Michael Tebelak
Genres: Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Musicals
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/04/2000
Original Release Date: 01/01/1973
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1973
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
MPAA Rating: G (General Audience)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Thai

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Movie Reviews

Still fresh and fun after 30 years
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 11/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This colorful hippie romp through the Gospel According to Matthew is a classic for kids of all ages, with its attractive, talented cast, and Richard Heimann's wonderful cinematography, with great vistas of New York City as the backdrop; many have the eerie beauty of the World Trade Center as its focus, with one scene taking place on the roof of one of the towers, with the city spread out beneath it.
The music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz are delightful, though my favorite song, "By My Side", was written by Peggy Gordon and Jay Hamburger.
The comedy is broad, and of the many parables told, the story of the Prodigal Son is hilarious, using clips from silent films to illustrate it. The energetic, gifted ensemble have a wide range of talents, and though this film did not propel any of them to stardom, some have had good careers (mostly with TV work) since this film was released in 1973, especially Victor Garber, who is so marvelous as Jesus, with his lovely, sweet tenor voice and angular movements, Lynne Thigpen, the effervescent bundle of joy who sings "O Bless the Lord My Soul", and the very funny Jerry Sroka.
As a group, they are all equally strong in their vocal, dance, and comedic skills, and are a large part of why this film works so well.
The Last Supper scene is a great piece of staging, and I especially like the added touch of blessing the bread and wine in Hebrew, and the subtle, though gripping handling of the darker portions towards the end keeps this an excellent family film, as even very young children will enjoy the slapstick humor and clever costumes.
This film is one of the best stage to screen adaptations, and is a jubilant celebration of life and God's love."
I LOVE this film! Please give it a chance; you'll be glad.
MelloCello | Upland, CA USA | 09/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm a child of the 60s/70s, you'd think I would have seen this film before 2002! I didn't think I could get past the idea of Jesus with a big afro and clown makeup. As it was, I was on my second viewing of this film before it really hit me. So if you think you don't care for it after the first viewing, try again.Once you get into the fun, innocent, tie-dyed feel of the early 1970s (or at least when it doesn't jar you so much) you can begin to see Godspell for the brilliant production that it is. The musical score is fabulous and I have heard most of it used in church over the years. The scenes of NYC are both breathtaking and poignant, considering the events of Sept. 11, 2001. And how did they get the streets empty during the daytime? The cast absolutely shines here. Young, energetic and all very talented. John/Judas is the strongest of the supporting cast members. Some people had a problem with the same actor (David Haskell) portraying both parts, but I see it as an important reminder that no one is all good or all bad; that we all have both John and Judas within us. Each cast member is showcased in one or more of the parables, and they all express their emotions vividly and handle the comedy, along with their musical numbers, expertly. Besides the 70s feel, there is also a strong vaudevillian component (they are clowns, after all) so be prepared. And then there's Jesus. I can't say enough good things about Victor Garber's AMAZING performance! The young Mr. Garber (later of such films as "Titanic" and "Annie") is almost painfully thin and pale, which adds to the other-worldly quality of Jesus. Yet he comes across as unfailingly human: loving, caring and joyous, but also at times angry, awkward and doubtful as events unfold, a charasmatic leader for his motley band of disciples. As happy and carefree as is the first 3/4 of this movie, so is the last quarter depressing and tragic. The inevitable advance toward the crucifixion is heartbreaking as Jesus sits at the last supper with his disciples and then moves to each one with a personal and emotional goodbye. The song, "On the Willows," with its beautiful harmonies will make the tears brim in your eyes. If you can get through this and the subsequent crucifixion without crying, with Jesus dying while his followers writhe and scream below, you must be made of stone. Finally Jesus is gently taken down and laid across the shoulders of the disciples and borne through the empty cityscape.While there is no resurrection scene, it is certainly implied which was enough for me. The film ends on a hopeful and joyous note, with the disciples singing softly at first and then breaking into "Prepare Ye" and "Day By Day" with mounting happiness and enthusiasm as they move down the street. Do yourself a favor and also buy the soundtrack recording on CD; you'll want to be able to listen to the music over and over even when you can't be watching the movie. Victor Garber's clear and beautiful tenor voice conveys all of the same emotions as the visuals, from silly and fun to tragic and painful. You can hear the last breath leave him as he softly sings, "Oh, God, I'm dead." Actually, you pick up more subtle emotional nuances from every cast member as you listen. It's best with headphones!! There is an old saying that goes, "God respects you when you work, but He loves you when you sing!" God must love Victor Garber and company very much for this incredible film. Bravo to all involved in bringing this production to the screen and thank you, thank you, Thank You!!"
The Best Religious Musical Ever!
Ryan | USA | 02/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am in a production of "Godspell" myself at my high school as John the Baptist. The movie was the perfect way to really see how David Haskell performed it. Not only that, but the power of the final scene made realize just exactly what I'd undertaken. The music, the characters, and the scenery made this a very moving show. The only bad comment that I would have to make is that the sound quality on some of the songs deteriorates, which made me a little edgy. However, I cannot believe that someone could call it a mockery of the New Testament. I consider it one of the best. Suddenly we can see Jesus, in a modern-day situation, and relate to him. The songs add more brilliant color to the movie, with songs varying from jubilant (Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord), to sad (By My Side, On The Willows). I would say that even if you aren't a religious person, the music and the acting is worth watching."
Fun, but an Acquired Taste
Mark Baker | Santa Clarita, CA United States | 02/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Godspell takes the story of Jesus from the Bible and transposes it to "modern" (read 1970's) New York City. It uses a small cast to act out various parables and stories from the life of Christ. Interspersed are songs inspired by the events the cast has been reenacting.This movie musical has several drawbacks. The biggest is that it is obviously a 70's musical. The costumes and arrangements just scream it out. The second is a personal pet peeve. They removed the song "We Beseech Thee" and added the song "Beautiful City." I've tried, but I just don't think it's a good substitute. Third, the "crucifixion" scene is almost laughable in this version. Lastly, with the small cast, everyone but Jesus plays multiple "rolls" in the overall story. This can be very confusing and often interrupts the message that segment was trying to get across.In my mind, the positives out way the negatives, however. The cast is obviously having fun with the material and each other, which makes the movie more enjoyable. There are many good songs, including my favorites "God Save the People" and "Day by Day." The video choreography for "All For the Best" and "Light of the World" are imaginative as well. All in all, I enjoy it.The DVD only includes the movie. Some behind the scenes info would have been interesting. But it does include both wide screen and full frame versions of the movie.If you're looking for a strict filming of the life of Christ, you will be disappointed. If you want a fun, slightly cheesy musical that is relatively faithful to the gospels, you'll enjoy this movie. It's not for everyone, but it is fun."