Saturday, May 19, 2007

Eh-hum # 158

Just the continuation of the previous post.

Two days ago, I logged on to YouTube and searched for something sensible to watch. This led me to videos of the famous rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS) by Time Rice (lyricist, The Lion King, etc) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer, Evita and Cats, etc) which debuted in Broadway in 1971. The said videos I found were from the play's movie version released in 1973 and features some of the original cast from the Broadway production. Perhaps not many people know (like myself), JCS started as an album before debuting onstage.

Judging from the title, as well as being categorized as a "rock opera", the play has a very modern feel to it; the lyrics and the music contains contemporary slang and sensibilites and features modern musical instrument, particularly the electric guitars. Moreover, both stage and film versions used many intentional anachronisms; a good example was when scaffolding (frames) was used as the venue where the Pharisees plot Jesus' death (1973 movie).

Since it tackles the political and interpersonal struggles of Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot as well as the last weeks of Jesus' life until his death, the play was controversial at its time. One major criticism was that the play depicted Jesus simply as a man and not a divine being (hence, his resurrection was not included). Nonetheless, the both stage and film versions were well-received; the movie became one of the highest-grossing films for the year 1973. Its popularity gave rise to a series of revivals in the 1990s, mostly onstage.

I for one really enjoyed the 1973 movie production. Aside from the compelling songs and captivating music, the film was hip and the anachronism made it unique. Also, I found no malice in how the lives of Jesus and his followers were depicted; making them a little more humane than usual gave it a soul. In 2000, another film adaptation was released, but in my opinion, it does not compare to the original. While the singers were talented, it was, for a lack of a better term, too musical-ish. Its a rock opera; rock being the operative word, and voices with a greater range does not necessarily work for this genre. I guess what's important is giving it more attitude and passion. Basically, if there's one great thing this opera contributed, it's putting Jesus Christ and rock n' roll in the same side.

Update: decided to take down the Overture because there's a new JCS video at post no. 160 ;)

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