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Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera began as a hit album then drew huge crowds in London and New York in its stage adaptation, but the screen version falls far short of its predecessors. Filmed beautifully in Israel, the movie presents a show within a show, as a group of young
tourists reenact Jesus' last seven days amid the arsenals of modern Israel. Director-coproducer-cowriter Norman Jewison (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF) presents lots of gorgeous images but no motivation, and he manages to trivialize the story of the Gospels with campy characterizations and erratic choice of
locale. The songs were key to the film's success (it grossed nearly $20 million, although the receipts were nothing near what was anticipated) and carry the story, which is virtually without dialog. Yvonne Elliman is electrifying as Mary Magdalene, and Carl Anderson couldn't have been better as
Judas; but Ted Neeley as Jesus is more whiny than heroic. Andre Previn received an Oscar nomination for his musical direction. Songs include "Jesus Christ, Superstar," "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "What's the Buzz?" "Herod's Song," "Heaven on Their Minds," "Strange Thing, Mystifying," "Then We
Are Decided," "Everything's All Right," "This Jesus Must Die," "Simon Zealotes," "Poor Jerusalem," "Pilate's Dream," "The Temple," "Damned for All Time," "Could We Start Again, Please?" "John 1941," "Crucifixion," "Judas's Death," "The Arrest," "Peter's Denial," "Pilate and Christ," "Blood Money,"
"The Last Supper," "Gethsemane," "Trial Before Pilate," and "Hosanna."