Thursday, January 22, 2015

Godspell and the Construction of the Twin Towers

In my Jesus in Film class today we focused on Godspell (dir. David Greene, 1973).  It's not my favourite Jesus film at all and so in re-viewing it, I was looking for things that might help to improve my impression of it.  And I found one major one.  The photographing of New York City in this film is really exquisite.

There are many views of New York that are breathtaking, but one scene is especially memorable -- David Greene captures the World Trade Center as construction on it is still in progress.  The number is "All for the best".  The song features the actors dancing in different areas of New York, including Time Square, where Victor Garber and David Haskell dance in front of their own silhouettes on screen, but the scene ends with the crew dancing on the top of the North Tower:

The panoramic view of New York in the background is remarkable.  And just how close to the edge of they?!  I would be absolutely terrified. I am guessing that the camera here is itself on the North Tower.  When the camera pans back further, the actors are still at the edge of the tower, but now facing in the opposite direction.  And here, the viewer can clearly see that construction is ongoing:

Presumably the camera is on a helicopter here?  I had wondered if it was on the South Tower, but is that the South Tower in the upper left of the shot?  As the camera pans back further, we see several shots of the twin towers.  Again, I am assuming this is done on a helicopter:

As the camera pans back further, we see both towers:

And the final shot in the sequence is the long shot of the twin towers against the New York skyline:

Here's that minute or so of remarkable footage:

An article in the Washington Post from 2006 features a brief comment from Victor Garber (Jesus) on this:
"It was really a magical day," he says of filming at the twin towers, and "surreal," too, taking an elevator "as high up as it was done" before having to climb through scaffolding to reach the roof. "It was overwhelming to walk out there."
Nearly three decades later, working in Los Angeles on 9/11, Garber says it took a day or two for the reality of the twin towers' loss and his connection to sink in: "It suddenly dawned on me that we were up there. I can't quite believe it. But you have the soundtrack cover, and there it is -- we're there."


james abram said...
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C. Wingate said...

My reaction to seeing the Annie trailers and the establishing shots of the NYC skyline was "something's missing-- oh, dammit."

Newt Crompton said...

I nearly had kittens watching that lol my life they so close to the edge when dancing!

hifijohn said...

I saw this movie many many years ago and never forgot the dancing on the WTC. I cant image allowing anyone that close to the edge and dancing as fast as they were, today that would have all been done with computer graphics.