Pastiche

Godspell

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I became familiar with the music through the cast album, but seeing this film now was a disappointment.  Does it closely follow the stage show, or what there is of a stage show?  If you like this film, what do you like about it?  

I saw a performing clown/mime/hippie troupe wandering through New York, without much choreography, but with occasional fancier aerial production shots.  One of the main appeals of the film is seeing vintage New York.   New York has been a significant backdrop in how many films we've seen so far?   On the Town, West Side Story...   

One thing that stood out was how much this reflected the time... you can see elements of "Laugh-In" and the Monkees.  This film might have been considerably better if the Monkees had done it; at least they would have had professionally-written business/shtick to do during the songs.   Also the vapid, smiling, lobotomized faces of the "performers" were even creepier than Coke's "I'd like to Teach the World to Sing" ad (1971).   But it was interesting seeing a young Victor Garber. 

Stephen Schwartz also used the traveling troupe idea in Pippin, another unconventional format musical.  

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I just can't fathom the Monkees quoting (or singing) the Gospel of Matthew. :) I saw it on stage many years ago but to be honest I don't remember much about it. And like you I found the movie somewhat lacking in...something. I much preferred Jesus Christ Superstar which first came out about the same time...the original recording and touring productions, that is. The movie came out in 73, around two years after Godspell.

I never even knew who Victor Garber was until Titanic. The next time I watched Godspell I caught his name in the credits, and seeing his younger self made it a little more enjoyable.

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I didn't get to see the whole thing today (thunderstorms loused up a lot of my scheduled recordings on satellite), but I actually liked what I saw. Was disappointed I missed "Day by Day." Thoroughly loved seeing a young Afro'd Victor Garber. 

 

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Am I the only one who enjoyed Godspell?  The play was very much like the film, with a few segments switched.  But yeah, Jesus is dressed like that in the play as well as the film, and one person plays both John the Baptist and Judas.  Maybe it's because I had seen the play I enjoyed the film as well....

Btw - if you search Godspell on YouTube, you can find a making of the film as well as the original play Jesus and John singing "All for the Best".

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I love this musical, and I’m impressed with the way that they brought it to film. Theatrical productions that I’ve seen use a mostly bare stage with costuming similar to what they used in the movie. Some productions use a theatrical trunk that the actors pull clothing from, sort of like kids playing dress up. It reminds me a bit of the production style of The Fantasticks. Given the bare stage origins, I like the way that they transported it to NYC. 

I recently saw a production of Godspell at our university, and apparently somewhere along the way they changed some of the lyrics and added some material. I suppose that happened in a recent revival. I hated it, as did the others who attended with me who were familiar with the original version. The altered version is darker, sort of angrier. It doesn’t have the joy and optimism of the original. I’m glad we have the movie version to keep that joyous celebration alive.

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1 hour ago, Walter3rd said:

 

Am I the only one who enjoyed Godspell? 

 

No! I fully expected it to not age well especially with all the memories attached (it was a very important play/movie/score in my upper grade school years). But I felt its spirit and beauty was still intact.

I'm not sure if you had to grow up with hippies like that to appreciate the snapshot of a very distinct time, but they were like the Fame kids of their day. Super-talented, hyper-achievers and yeah, precocious and slightly annoying LOL Everybody in my drama circle wanted to be eccentric, creative "theater kids" like that!

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I saw Godspell in the theater when it was first released (yes, I am that old).  I remember not being terribly impressed and I have not seen it since.  It was released on the heels of the Jesus Movement in 1973 along with Jesus Christ Superstar so there was a good deal of talk in "Jesus People" circles about both films and a lot of comparisons were made.  Superstar is, I think, the superior film and I watch that one at least once a year, but since I saw Godspell only once, I was hoping to watch it again during this course to see if my opinion would be any different.  I hope to watch it before the course concludes.

 

Edited to say I tried to watch it but ... no.  Some of the tunes are catchy but the film is treacly and simplistic.  Just couldn't get through it.  Y'all can have Godspell.  I'll stick with Jesus Christ Superstar and Ted Neeley's phenomenal voice. (He still has it too.  Saw him do Superstar on stage not long ago. Amazing!)  

Thanks to everyone for participating and sharing.  Hope to see some of you, at least, on the new Facebook page!

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Funny, while I like some of the songs from Superstar, I prefer Godspell overall. Isn’t it nice that there’s something for everyone out there?

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On ‎6‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 8:40 PM, DeannaDares said:

No! I fully expected it to not age well especially with all the memories attached (it was a very important play/movie/score in my upper grade school years). But I felt its spirit and beauty was still intact.

I'm not sure if you had to grow up with hippies like that to appreciate the snapshot of a very distinct time, but they were like the Fame kids of their day. Super-talented, hyper-achievers and yeah, precocious and slightly annoying LOL Everybody in my drama circle wanted to be eccentric, creative "theater kids" like that!

Same time as you! I remember singing the songs, and had the soundtrack memorized. It was part of my growing up also. Would watch it whenever it came on TV. Still sing all the songs when it comes on. I try to harmonize like the cast, but with more disastrous results. 

I love the songs, and the "hippie Fame kids", great way to word it. (smile)

And Walter3rd, you are not alone! 

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On 6/29/2018 at 7:14 AM, KarenLucille said:

Funny, while I like some of the songs from Superstar, I prefer Godspell overall. Isn’t it nice that there’s something for everyone out there?

My husband preferred Godspell of JCSS, even though he's not a big musicals fan. I don't remember what year it was but when he was a teenager a touring production came through and he told his parents he wanted front row balcony seats for him and a couple of friends for his birthday. But he tried to watch the movie with me and just couldn't get into it.

He did indulge me on Easter and watched Superstar with John Legend and I think he enjoyed that more than he wanted to admit lol.

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On 6/29/2018 at 4:14 AM, KarenLucille said:

Funny, while I like some of the songs from Superstar, I prefer Godspell overall. Isn’t it nice that there’s something for everyone out there?

I feel the same way - even though both end pretty much at the same place, Godspell is the more optimistic of the two.  

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I saw Godspell in the theater when it originally came out as well (I was in high school) and liked it a lot.  I love the music, and still own the vinyl original-cast album (from the theatrical version).  I think the stripped-down staging that KayeA mentioned works better for the show.  I actually didn't get to see the movie version this week when TCM showed it, but I did watch the trailer, and found it overly-precious and annoyingly gimmicky.  The part that caught my attention the most were the glimpses of the World Trade Center.  Before this week, I've re-watched the musical number that was filmed on top of the then-brand-new WTC a few times on the anniversary of 9/11.  

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My Dad was a huge musical fan so before I could talk I knew songs from a ton of musicals.  Godspell was one of those musicals.  I think its a really interesting telling of the Gospel of Matthew.  I love "Superstar" as well.  I think the music is great and its interesting to see how the tell the story.  I have seen this several times on stage in local productions.  Some hit it right on the nose and some completely miss the mark.

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On 6/28/2018 at 7:18 PM, Walter3rd said:

Am I the only one who enjoyed Godspell?  

No way! I LOVE Godspell (and always actually preferred the music to that of Jesus Christ Superstar ...that is, until the TV/John Legend version made me take a fresh look at it, but I digress). 

I've always felt connected to Godspell -- it was conceived at my alma mater (Carnegie Mellon University), and as a native New Yorker, it's always been a thrill seeing the city of my childhood (including the World Trade Center) on screen. That last scene, when they turn the corner at Park Avenue and the spell is broken, chokes me up every time.

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On 7/1/2018 at 11:06 AM, kathys1977 said:

My Dad was a huge musical fan so before I could talk I knew songs from a ton of musicals.  Godspell was one of those musicals.  I think its a really interesting telling of the Gospel of Matthew.  I love "Superstar" as well.  I think the music is great and its interesting to see how the tell the story.  I have seen this several times on stage in local productions.  Some hit it right on the nose and some completely miss the mark.

The one thing that threw me was it said it was telling the Gospel of Matthew, but uses a parable (about the rich man and beggar in a church) that was from the gospel of Luke (18:9)

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On 6/28/2018 at 7:20 PM, Pastiche said:

I became familiar with the music through the cast album, but seeing this film now was a disappointment.  Does it closely follow the stage show, or what there is of a stage show?  If you like this film, what do you like about it?  

"What there is" is the operative term:
The appeal of the show is that it's largely improvised on a bare set with found props, and never the same show most nights.

That made it just about unfilmable, which is why we get the weird concept of finding disenfranchised NY folk dropping out of the Establishment and causing all time and people to disappear from NY, for an entire city of found sets and props.  It's a nice enough record of one show, but apart from the songs, doesn't really conjure up the appeal of the show.

On 6/29/2018 at 1:55 AM, Charlie's Girl said:

It was released on the heels of the Jesus Movement in 1973 along with Jesus Christ Superstar so there was a good deal of talk in "Jesus People" circles about both films and a lot of comparisons were made.  Superstar is, I think, the superior film and I watch that one at least once a year, but since I saw Godspell only once, I was hoping to watch it again during this course to see if my opinion would be any different.  I hope to watch it before the course concludes.\

The whole "Jesus hippie" (or "Jesus-freak" as the hard-hats called them) movement basically threw Superstar the musical and movie so far out of context, most today still don't get the basic idea--

Even director Norman Jewison thought it was a peace-and-love Sunday-school Bible-musical for the flower-child 70's, and although there are some hints of Andrew Lloyd Webber's sociopolitical spin (the Romans and the people are wishfully spinning Jesus' naive messages into anti-Roman revolution, and Judas is the only one who can smell the powder keg), the whole spectacle of the hit-songs and the location-filming pretty much takes over the movie.  Judas was always played by a black actor, which was considered "ooo!" at the time, and also threw wrenches into most folks' discussions of the show.

When Webber was putting out his own direct-video productions of "Cats" and "Joseph/Dreamcoat", there was a not-too-bad '00 DTV "Superstar" production that put the setting into a future fascist dictatorship, and left much less ambiguity about the lyrics of Judas's opening song.

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