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 . . ."