This Easter, I attended a brunch (titled "Christ Is Reborn Muthafuckas") which featured a screening of the Jewison-Lloyd Webber classic Jesus Christ Superstar. As always, the film spoke deeply to me.
When Jesus and Pontius Pilate have their confrontation, it's not a passion play; it's a passion-aggression play:
"Not one of you cares if I come or go."
"To keep you happy, I guess I'll flog Jesus."
"One of you will betray me. One of you will deny me. And, you know, that's fine. Nothing I can do about it now. Just go to sleep guys. See if I care."
"Go ask Herod how Jesus gets punished. I wash my hands off this whole thing."
According to IMDB, the actor who played King Herod, Josh Mostel, went on to star in Billy Madison, as a wrestler-turned-elementary-school-principal. More interesting is the career path of Paul Thomas, who played Peter, looking very much like a lion. JCS may have been his final job in legitimate films, as his later credits include Furburgers, The Erotic Adventures of Candy, and Swedish Erotica, Parts 1-4, 8, 11-18, 22, 25, 28-29, and 40-43.
Maybe Mary Magdalene wasn't the one Judas should have been worried about. Of course, the end sequence (which Louise described as "the Power Exchange portion of the movie") where Jesus is flogged by muscular, half-naked men, while King Herod squirms ecstatically, might have influenced Peter's later career choices.
Jesus gets really upset when the temple is turned into a bazaar early in the film. We see people selling things ranging from guns and grenades to disturbingly-green vegetables, but Christ doesn't freak out and start overturning the tables until just after someone is seen buying...a cash register. This might have been a reference to ridding the temple of "money-changers", but I think He thought it was just too meta for Him to deal with.
I used to be fascinated by the idea of bazaars growing up, possibly at the same time I was voraciously reading the Bible (age 7 or 8). (In retrospect, the Bible's focus on begetting foreshadowed my later fondess for the Lord of the Rings series and its emphasis on elven genealogy.) There was a stretch of two weeks or so when I tried to work the word "bazaar" into casual conversation:
"Mom, I was sowta thinking we could go down to the bazaaw today."
"You know, the mawket with all the goods. And gwocewies."
"Do you mean Safeway?"
If I was in Jesus Christ Superstar, I would want to play one of the priests. I'm not particular. I know Caiaphas, the low-voiced priest, is the glamour priest role, but I would also be willing to play the lispy-voiced priest. Ideally, I'd do my makeup, half as Caiaphas, half as the effeminate priest, and simply turn to the appropriate profile for each verse. In my mind, that constitutes a more permanent solution to our problem.