Director Norman Jewison took the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera out to desert locations in Israel to film an unconventional movie musical version of the last seven days of Christ’s life on Earth.
Unfortunately the film never really found a satisfactory style to match the driving energy of the music.
Ted Neeley played a petulant, flaxen-haired Jesus, Carl Anderson gave an outstanding and electrifying performance as Judas Iscariot. Hawaiian-born Yvonne Elliman (sometimes backing vocalist for Eric Clapton) made an impression as Mary Magdalene with I Don’t Know How To Love Him.
The character of Jesus is so poorly drawn that we never understand either the appeal that he generates or the hostility he provokes. His greatest show of clout comes when entering a temple overrun with drugs, weapons, whores and other examples of rampant depravity. But his most remarkable physical feat proves to be the mere dislodging of a rack of postcards – thus marking him as history’s earliest opponent of tourism.