Joseph and the amazing Technicolor animated film

I’ve seen a lot of Bible movies, and I have even seen or listened to a few Bible-themed plays and cast recordings and whatnot, but there’s one production that I have never experienced in any way, shape or form, and it’s a biggie: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice first composed in the 1960s, a few years before they wrote Jesus Christ Superstar.

I should probably familiarize myself with it fairly soon, though. In addition to some research I’m doing on Genesis movies right now, it was also announced today that Elton John, who has experience producing family films based on classic pop hits, is collaborating with Webber and Rice on an animated adaptation of the musical, which is apparently the most-produced musical in history and especially popular with schoolchildren.

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Jesus at the Movies

In Jesus of Montreal, Denys Arcand’s witty satire about a group of actors who put on a revisionist Passion play, the church sponsoring the play sends in some security guards to call off the production in mid-performance. The actors have tinkered with the Gospels too much; their reconstruction of the historical Jesus challenges church tradition at nearly every point, so out it must go. But the audience objects; one woman says she wants to see the end, and the head of security replies, impatiently, “Look, he dies on the cross and is resurrected. No big deal. Talk about slow!

The scene neatly sums up one of the main challenges faced by films about the life of Jesus: namely, overfamiliarity. Jesus has been represented in paintings, sculptures, and stained-glass windows for centuries; since the invention of moving pictures in the 1890s, he has also been a perennial subject in films and television. All these portrayals tend to fuse together in the popular imagination; audiences think they’ve seen it all before, and they can remain blind to the unique perspective each film sheds on the life of Jesus and his relationship to modern moviegoers.

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