The other day I watched the musical "Godspell" for the first time since I was a small child, and it brought back a flood of memories. "Godspell" is a silly movie from 1973 where crazy hippies re-enact the Gospel of Matthew through singing and dancing around New York City. I love that movie. My viewing reminded me of the last movie I watched about Jesus. It was a small film, and didn't get much press, and caused very little controversy. It was called "The Passion of the Christ." Unless you have been living under a rock, you get the sarcasm here. Anyway-BUNNY TRAIL- Here comes yet unother rant about the American Church. Seriously, I am not blaming anyone here, and I am the farthest from perfect there is, but someone has got to point out the problems, and I am appointing myself- BACK TO MAIN STREET-Anyway, the marketing for "The Passion" was genius. In a nutshell, if you didn't go see "The Passion" you weren't a good Christian. So, I saw the movie on opening night. I didn't enjoy it very much. Actually, I think you would have to be a Satanist to enjoy the movie, that is, if you left before the last thirty seconds (resurrection goodness). I get what Gibson was trying to do. Enjoying the film is not the point. The point is experiencing Christ's PHYSICAL (only one element of His) suffering. That's pretty much it. There is hardly anything about Jesus' life on Earth, or His teachings. Just violence, violence, and more violence. Oh. Did I mention violence? Not just the punishment for Jesus, either. We get grotesque demon hauntings of Judas. We get an eye-ball popping out of somebody's head. We get rotting animal carcasses. This film is about violence. I can see how watching this film once can be an eye-opener for anyone who can't quite comprehend the descriptions of Jesus' beatings in the Bible (but I don't get why all the other violence is so prominent). After that, I can't quite comprehend why anyone would want to watch the film again, but I've been called a pacifist and a bleeding heart and a softie, so I guess that's just me. Maybe that's why I enjoy Godspell so much more.
First off, you actually get to hear Jesus' teachings, and see them acted out.
Secondly-this film is hillarious. There is a joyful sense of reckless abandon, and just downright happiness. Jesus is a happenin guy.
Third-Being the child of ex-hippies, I had a very interesting early upbringing. My newly Christian mother sat me in front of the TV for all kinds of crazy hippie Christian shows, and made me listen to crazy hippie Christian music (Like Bullfrogs and Butterflies, and Dallas Holmes, and Keith Green) and I like(d) it. Godspell reminds me of the first three or four years of my life. Plus, early 80s LPB rocked. Old-school Sesame Street. 3-2-1-Contact. Reading Rainbow. Bob Ross. Plus, I got a healthy dose of What's Happening, too. Rerun (the What's Happening character, for the uninitiated) was my hero. Anyway, all this to say, I feel very comfortable when I watch crazy things from the 70s and early 80s.
So anyway, when Hippie Jesus (played by Victor Garber(he is awesome) knows it is time for His crucifiction and says goodbye to each disciple individually, I tear up. I did not tear up during "Passion" because I was too busy holding back vomit, and feeling strange, cold, and isolated. Jesus is my hero. Watching Him get beat up doesn't give me very much pleasure.
I guess my point is (I actually don't think I have one this time), I sure miss the happier, and less cynical times where Jesus could sing and dance, and wear cool facepaint and suspenders, and His disciples could sing and dance with Him. Now, the only thing Jesus is allowed to do is be beaten, and nailed to a cross. That's not much of a teaching tool. Sure, the death is important, but what good is it to show the death, without showing the life? If the Gospels were only the second to last chapters, we would be missing a lot.
I sure would like to make a historically accurate film some day that focuses on Jesus life, instead of just his death. We Protestants wear an empty cross, while Catholic's wear one where He's still up there dead (Gibson =s highly Catholic) because we focus on Life, right? That's what I always thought, anyway. Not knocking Catholics or anything (or maybe I am, I can't quite tell). When I finish reading the Gospels, I feel like I can take on the world, not like I've just had the hell beaten out of me. I don't know. I guess I'm just crazy.
-In conclusion (taken from IMDB):
Pharisee Monster: (made of garbage): What is the greatest commandment of all?
Jesus: Thou shalt love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and your soul. This is the greatest commandment of them all. The second is like it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. All the rest of the Law and what the prophets have written is based on these first two.
Pharisee Monster: Argh!!! (Self destructs)
-Eating glue is not the answer!