Question: Isn't Judas' reference to Muhammad an historical inaccuracy? Muhammad lived from 570 AD to 632 AD.
Answer: In the song "Jesus Christ, Superstar, " Judas highlights several anachronisms. He makes comparison to Buddha, about whom he likely would have known little to nothing. He references Muhammad, not yet born. He even brings up the concept of mass communication, also unheard of in the ancient world. However, this number is meant to take place in a spiritual realm, out of place and time, where past and present have no actual meaning. Judas is shown to be eternally struggling with Jesus, his message, his methods, and whether or not he is truly divine. But also, let's face it...like its contemporary, "Godspell, " the entire film is pretty much an anachronism. For starters, it's a rock operetta which puts just about everything in modern terms in its language ("what's the buzz") and its cinematography (Judas being chased down by tanks, for example). If you are looking for temporal realism, there are many options for that. This film is far more allegorical than it is historical.
Question: Now, I may be missing some big symbolic thing here, but what exactly did the tanks and the jets represent, or where they just mistakes or something?
Answer: There are many "current" images added in to convey an up-to-date parallel of what was happening. The planes & tanks were to show the power of the Roman government. Also the merchants sinning by selling in the temple are selling postcards, prostitution, drugs, & even machine guns in the movie. It was to give something modern for viewers to relate to. The guards carry guns as well as the roman spears of the time. The modern "anything goes" in the sexual area is clear in the modern version of Herod's escapades.
Question: At the very end when they show the sun setting over the hill, you can see something/someone moving across the screen, just under the ground. Is this done to symbolize something, or was it a sort of camera problem?
Answer: According to Ted Neeley and Norman Jewison on the DVD commentary, the shepherd walking across the frame in the final shot of the film was never intended to be there, and just happened across the shot as they were filming. Because of the significance of a shepherd in the teachings of Christ, Jewison and the crew were struck profoundly by the timing of this shepherd crossing the field, and kept the shot. They got a perfect sunset, as well as a subtle depiction of the resurrection.
Question: In the film 'Jesus Christ Superstar', in the song 'Peter's denial', Peter sings: "You've got the wrong man, lady, [.], and I wasn't where" etc. All the websites with lyrics say the line after the word 'lady' is: "I don't know him", but that is not at all what I hear on the CD of the film version. I know some things changed when the show was turned into a film, and I suppose this is one of them. Can someone help? I am an English teacher and I would like to use these songs for an English lesson before Easter.
Answer: Just looked this song up on YouTube, from several versions including the 1973 film, and the lines are always performed as the lyric sites say.
Question: During the song "Poor Jerusalem" Christ says "Neither you Simon, nor Judas, nor the twelve". Simon and Judas ARE two of the twelve. Is this some sort of screw-up, or was it written this way for a purpose?
Answer: It's not a screw up, it was probably written that way so that we knew he was referring to the twelve apostles; is he had said "nor the ten", some people would have had no idea who he was talking about.
Question: Was the third verse of "Hosanna" (where Christ urges the crowd to "sing out your songs, but not for me alone") written for the film? I haven't heard it in any other versions and in most foreign versions of the stage play the verse is not included.
Answer: Yes it was written for the film, and was not used at all before that. The director Norman Jewison asked Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice if they wanted to make some changes to the play before the movie was made, and they agreed by writing that verse, the additional song "Then We Are Decided" and incorporating "Could We Start Again Please" from the Broadway version. However in most stage productions I have seen the additional "Hosanna" verse and "Could We Start Again Please" are included."Then We Are Decided" remains unique to the film.
Question: In the song "Jesus Christ Superstar" Judas sings "Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication". Why is he singing about that specific year? Even with the miscalculation in the Gregorian calendar, Christ still died around 30 A.D. So why that year in the song?
Answer: First, the lyricist is taking a little artistic license to make the line fit the cadence of the song. Second, there has for some time been a debate over the exact year Jesus Christ was born. Traditionally, it is accounted as the year 1 AD. However, the Bible says that Jesus was born in the time of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BC, so he must have been born in that year or before it, assuming that date is correct. Furthermore, the Magi supposedly noted an astronomical event that drove them to visit the newborn Christ; there was an alignment of planets in 6 BC that would qualify nicely. In any case, the line in the song is meant to refer to whenever Jesus arrived in Israel: his birth.