Godspell (1973)



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Movie Info

Godspell began as a special acting project at the Carnegie-Mellon drama department, then blossomed into a professional production at New York's Cafe La Mama. Today it is so often produced by parochial high schools that it's hard to believe that the project was once considered sacrilegious. Essentially, this musical piece is the Gospel According to St. Mathew translated into hippie-movement terms. Jesus (portrayed by Victor Garber, who years later played the Devil in the revival of Damn Yankees!) is redefined as a gentle flower child whose message is misunderstood by the Establishment. The medium of film allows director David Greene to literalize many of the elements only alluded to in the play, thus Godspell is enacted throughout the genuine streets of Manhattan, with particular emphasis on the Times Square area. Among the better-known songs in the Stephen Schwartz/John-Michael Tebelek score are "Day By Day" and "All For the Best." The film seems more quaint than progressive when seen today, with a curious air of detachment throughout.

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Critic Reviews for Godspell

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (1)

A lesson in how not to transfer a theatrical musical to the big screen.

Apr 7, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

The peppy no-name cast take to the parables like toddlers take to Sesame Street.

Jul 25, 2007 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Calling this the "Sesame Street" version of the Gospel would be an insult to "Sesame Street."

Feb 17, 2005 | Rating: 1/5

Engaging Hair wannabe.

Jun 12, 2004 | Rating: 3/5

Delightful piece of 1970s nostalgia; many memorable tunes

Jan 12, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Seventies musical based on the Gospel of St. Matthew is spirited and touching.

Nov 7, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Godspell

This movie walks a fine line between uplifting and annoying. For the most part I found it really annoying. Maybe I'll watch it again someday to give it another chance.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

If it wasn't so obviously religious, I would suspect they were all on drugs. Shocking.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


Cool idea, to have a hippy version of Jesus running around the streets and landmarks of New York City with his co-ed disciples, but everybody acts like complete idiots, most of the songs (except for "Day By Day") are dreadful, and they tell boring stories. It's pantomime throughout. There's not much drama or conflict. I tried watching several times, and always got bored.

Lafe Fredbjornson
Lafe Fredbjornson

Super Reviewer


I can't give you one reason in the world why I watched this but I did. It's the Book of Matthew set in 70s Manhattan. I cursed Godspell for the first hour or so then I didn't mind and even liked some of the rest of it. The music got better and the thought of Jesus getting crucified always excites me a little. It's like the car accident you can't look away from--horror you have to see. File with 9/11, Nazis and the ensuing holocaust. Bad transition here but it's equally frightening and hilarious. The Goodwill outfits, the Jew fros and the fact that you're supposed to forget that several million people live in New York as a hippie theater troupe cavorts around the deserted city adds up to the theater of the absurd. But absurd in a very twisted and entertaining way. (Oh... and being under the influence helps...)

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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