The Passion of the Christ and Other Great Easter Movies

Easter is almost upon us and while the commercialized Easter involves Easter bunnies, colored eggs, chocolate, jellybeans, and everyone’s favorite candy, peeps, for many people Easter is a religious holiday. In fact, many Christians believe Easter to be the most important holiday in the church, right above Christmas. That’s because Easter celebrates the resurrection of the risen Lord Jesus after He suffered an excruciating crucifixion on Good Friday, three days prior. Regardless of if they are religious, many people still celebrate Easter as a day to spend time with family and friends, with some seeking out the best movies to watch on Easter.

For practicing people of faith, Jesus is at the center of Easter. Therefore, they often reflect on His life and death, and the sacrifice He made to save mankind by dying a painful death on the cross. One way to do this would be to watch a movie which highlights those very things. Jesus is a popular historical figure and Hollywood loves to tell stories of prominent people. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there have been a great number of films surrounding Jesus’ life. Additionally, there have been several great shows depicting Jesus’ life such as The Chosen or Jesus of Nazareth, but today, we are looking at some of the greatest films about the risen Christ to watch for the Easter season.

6 Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar
Universal Pictures

“Jesus Christ. Superstar. Do you think you’re what they say you are?” Take a musical ride with Jesus as you explore his life and death and experience biblical scenes like The Last Supper, the whipping and scourging of Jesus, and His crucifixion in an entirely new way. Based on the popular rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar explores the relationship and conflict of Judas and Jesus leading up to their deaths. However, unlike several other entries on this list, Jesus Christ Superstar ends with the crucifixion and omits the resurrection which was a big part of His story and quest to save the human race (and literally what Easter commemorates). Instead, the musical ends with more questions than answers. “Jesus Christ. Who are you? What have you sacrificed? “

5 Killing Jesus

Jesus walks through the crowds in Killing Jesus

National Geographic Channel

Based on the bestselling novel by political commentator and writer Bill O’Reilly, Killing Jesus gives a detailed account of the context of Jesus’ life and the political conspiracy that surrounded His death. Unlike most retellings of Jesus’ life, this story focuses mostly on the political, social, and historical conflicts that occurred during the Roman Empire which ultimately led to Christ’s execution.

Related: The Best Films With Religious Themes

As is the case with most book to film adaptations, the book was received better than the film, with many book reviewers praising it for its thought-provoking content, and objective and factual point of view, as it explained the political unrest at the time. However, that does not mean that the film is not worth a watch, as it contains all the same facts as the book.

4 Son of God

The cast of Son of God rejoice around Jesus in the center
20th Century Fox

Based on the ten-hour miniseries The Bible which aired on the History channel in March 2013, Son of God was released in theaters in February 2014 to mixed reviews. Christians praised it while critics called it too dull. The film is an accurate portrayal of Jesus, consistent with the New Testament accounts, but has a much more family-friendly version of Jesus’ crucifixion compared to The Passion of the Christ, which is a very violent and heart-wrenching depiction.

The story is told from John’s perspective and follows Jesus’ birth, life, and death. Son of God contains a powerful resurrection sequence, which beautifully shows God’s love and mercy, ending the film on a positive and inspiring note. Overall, the film is a strong reminder of Jesus’ undying love for all his people and why Easter is so special to more than two billion people.

3 The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Greatest Story Ever Told
United Artists

Clocking in at a whopping 4 hours and 20 minutes, The Greatest Story Ever Told is the most complete retelling of Jesus’ life on this list and one of the most detailed versions in cinema history. The film gives an extensive overview of key events in Jesus ‘life such as His birth, King Herod’s (Claude Rains) execution of all the newborn males in Egypt, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (Charlton Heston), and Jesus’ betrayal by Judas after the Last Supper that leads to His crucifixion. In addition, The Greatest Story Ever Told has a star-studded cast including Max von Sydow as Jesus of Nazareth, Dorothy McGuire as the Virgin Mary, and even John Wayne as a Roman centurion. The film was unfortunately a massive box office failure, yet went on to be nominated for five Academy Awards.

Related: These Are the Best Religious Horror Movies of All Time

2 Risen

Columbia Pictures

Risen tells the story of Jesus through a non-believer’s eyes. After having served in the Roman army for 25 years, Clavius ​​(Joseph Fiennes) has witnessed a lot of death and destruction. He is tasked with the job of expediting a crucifixion and thinks nothing of it when he arrives and witnesses its conclusion. However, three days later, Clavius ​​is assigned the job of investigating rumors surrounding the mysterious resurrection of one of the men recently crucified. That task leads him on a journey to discover the truth behind the risen Yeshua, the Messiah, and his message of love and forgiveness. Risen features an outstanding and layered performance by Fiennes, who struggles to understand the truth while remaining loyal to his Roman beliefs. In the end, Clavius ​​abandons his job as a Roman soldier to walk the path of peace and follow Yeshua the Messiah.

1 The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ
Icon Productions

The Passion of the Christ takes the number one place on this list for several reasons. First, it is the highest-grossing Christian film to date, banking $ 370,782,930 at the box office. Second, while the film may be extremely violent and difficult to watch, its violence serves a purpose and is meant to accurately depict the hardships Jesus faced in his last hours and his undying love for humanity, which led to his excruciating crucifixion, depicted heartbreakingly by Jim Caviezel.

In addition, the film is historically accurate in terms of language, as the film’s dialogue is entirely in Hebrew, Latin, and reconstructed Aramaic, with English subtitles. This makes history as the only American movie about Jesus to be in a non-English language. The setting, clothing, graphic violence, and authentic dialogue all help to make the film feel as real as possible. The Passion of the Christ is difficult to stomach, as it focuses mainly on the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life, leading to His torture and death, then concluding with his resurrection. Thus, this makes it the perfect film to watch on Good Friday in preparation for Easter.

Though the resurrection is only briefly mentioned near the end of the film, Mel Gibson is making a follow-up, aptly titled Resurrectionand even 20 years later Caviezel believes it will be “the biggest film in world history. “

Jim Caviezel carries his cross amongst Roman soldiers in The Passion

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