Ah, Easter – that holy season of faith, new life, pastel candy…and movies! Okay, that’s every season for me, I know, but if movies reflect the hero’s journey (the best ones do), and Jesus is the best and greatest hero (He is), then it’s all a bundle of holy activity, right?
Here are my Top 5 favorite films for pondering the true meaning of Easter / Resurrection Sunday / National Day of Eating Chocolate in the Shape of Anything:
King of Kings
This is my favorite passion movie from childhood. Yes, Jeffrey Hunter has blue eyes, and there are a few creative liberties taken with the story, but the additions enhance the story and do not oppose scripture. The score is soaringly beautiful, the sermon on the mount is riveting, and Rip Torn is Judas as a young, skinny, hopeful guy!
Dare you not to cry – When Jesus visits John the Baptist in prison.
Favorite quote –
Mary Magdalene: “I am a woman of sin.”
Mary: (smiles) “…who will share my table.”
The Passion of the Christ
If you can look past Mel Gibson’s shenanigans and subsequent fall (and I’m not suggesting that it is or should be easy to do), this is by far the most artistically rich film ever made about Jesus. The unmitigated violence is hard to watch – and it’s supposed to be; I’ll never be able to watch the flogging again – but the script is unparalleled for its profound imagery and for portraying Jesus as the teacher, friend, and baddass that He always was/is.
Dare you not to cry – When Mary flashes back to Jesus as a running toddler.
Favorite scene – Tie: The Garden of Gethsemane and the resurrection.
The Easter Carol
It’s a Veggie Tale. It has bunnies, eggs, stained glass art, and a little blue fairy named Hope. What’s not to love?
Dare you not to cry: The final scene in the cemetery.
Favorite scene: The same.
The 10 Commandments
It’s impossible to appreciate the New Testament without understanding the Old, and there is no more reverent a look at the latter than this movie. To be honest, I think Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner could have read the lines sitting on a stage in folding chairs and it would have been enough, but I enjoy the spectacle of it too.
Dare you not to cry: When Rameses casts Moses out.
Favorite scene: Mount Sinai, of course.
The Shawshank Redemption
It’s an unconventional selection for Easter, perhaps, but a sound one. Based on a spring-themed novella by Stephen King in Different Seasons (original title: “Hope Springs Eternal – Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”), this movie presents an unflinching look at “life” as a prisoner, and at the price, value, and beauty of freedom. If you don’t see what that has to do with Easter, I can recommend a number of good Sunday School classes to try out.
Dare you not to cry: When Andy comes clean in the river.
Favorite quote (a.k.a. the best tagline ever): Get busy living, or get busy dying.
These are my standards; feel free to leave me yours!