Friday, March 26, 2010

Who is your favourite Herod?

Who is your favourite Herod Antipas? Jesus Christ Superstar is perhaps not as well known these days as it once was. When I mentioned it in class on Wednesday, I was surprised at how few in my New Testament Introduction class had seen it in any form, either the 1973 film or a stage production. It came up because we were talking about the distinctive elements in Luke's Passion Narrative, one of which is of course Luke 23.7-12, in which Herod appears. Here is Herod's song from Jesus Christ Superstar (1973):

Or do you prefer Rik Mayall's more recent Herod in the 2000 filmed stage version of Jesus Christ Superstar?

Although I love Rik Mayall, this performance doesn't quite do it for me. I still like Josh Moshtel's camp performance in the 1973 film version (above) directed by Norman Jewison.

But what about non-musical Herods? I think you have to go a long way to beat Jose Ferrer in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), earnest, brooding, menacing, troubled, understated and believable. (And his father, Herod the Great, is played by the great Claude Rains who is also great, though somewhat more manic). This is one of my favourite scenes in the film, at about the half-way point, where Salome's dance leads to the death of John:

There is an interesting segue here from the scene with Ferrer's Herod commanding the arrest of "the Nazarene", and the troops going to carry out this mission, to Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount beginning not with "Blessed are the poor in spirit" but instead, more appropriately, "Blessed are you when you are persecuted . . ."


Rich Griese said...

Oh please... it's no contest.

Jesus Christ Superstar Herod wins hands down.


John Lyons said...

I was always partial to the Angry Anderson version myself. Never seen it though, only heard it.

Michael F. Bird said...

Has to be Angry Anderson as Herod in JCS.

andrewbourne said...

I think Peter Ustinov was pretty good in Zefferelli`s Jesus of Nazareth

Geoff Hudson said...

Herod who? Agrippa I?

Juliette said...

He doesn't appear as part of the Passion narrative, but my favourite Herod Antipas by far is Chrsitopher Plummer in Jesus of Nazareth. His expression while watching Salome dance is priceless. Jewison's film of Jesus Christ Superstar is the best Passion appearance though.

Daniel Graves said...

These are all great... another classic is the Vicar of Dibley Christmas special... David Horton as Herod the Great (of course, a different Herod) in the live nativity: "Did he say 'kiss all the babies' or 'kill all the babies?'" and "I am not as mean and horrible a king as many say, in fact, I have lots of sweets for the children..."
Fr. Dan

hair01 said...

Jesus Christ Super Star!!

It is the most intresting ofthem all, hands down. Go Jesus..

MVH.. come on you got to love it

Juliette said...

Having just re-watched The Passion of the Christ for my blog, the Herod Antipas there is pretty good too - very like Jesus Christ Superstar, but just a bit more real - a bit like a mixture of Jesus Christ Superstar's Herod Antipas and Christopher Plummer's!