Today, Arleigh and Pantsukudasai have left town to attend the Anime Expo and I find myself momentarily alone here at the TSL Bunker, curled up on the couch in my beloved Pirates t-shirt and Hello Kitty panties, and cursing my asthma. As I lay here, it occurs to me that it’s been a while since I’ve shared a “scene that I love” here on the site. So, why not rectify that situation now?
Norman Jewison’s 1972 film version of Jesus Christ Superstar is a film that I’ve been meaning to review for a while but for now, I just want to share my favorite scene from that film, the performance of Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem.
There’s several reasons I love that scene but mostly it just comes down to the fact that it captures the explosive energy that comes from watching a live performance. Larry Marshall (who plays Simon Zealotes) has one of the most fascinating faces that I’ve ever seen in film and when he sings, he sings as if the fate of the entire world depends on it. That said, I’ve never been sold on Ted Neely’s performance as Jesus but Carl Anderson burns with charisma in the role of Judas.
Mostly, however, I just love the choreography and watching the dancers. I guess that’s not that surprising considering just how important dance was (and still is, even if I’m now just dancing for fun) in my life but, to be honest, I’m probably one of the most hyper critical people out there when it comes to dance in film, regarding both the the way that it’s often choreographed and usually filmed. But this scene is probably about as close to perfect in both regards as I’ve ever seen. It goes beyond the fact that the dancers obviously have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and that they all look good while dancing. The great thing about the choreography in this scene is that it all feels so spontaneous. There’s less emphasis on technical perfection and more emphasis on capturing emotion and thought through movement. What I love is that the number is choreographed to make it appear as if not all of the dancers in this scene are on the exact same beat. Some of them appear to come in a second or two late, which is something that would have made a lot of my former teachers and choreographers scream and curse because, far too often, people become so obsessed with technical perfection that they forget that passion is just as important as perfect technique. (I’m biased, of course, because I’ve always been more passionate than perfect.) The dancers in this scene have a lot of passion and it’s thrilling to watch.