As Christians prepare for Easter Sunday, many may be searching for a movie to include in their weekend activities. But what to watch? Here’s what others are including in their “top Easter movie” lists.
Some may be familiar to you, such as Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, while others are considered more “indy” with modest exposure in the flood of yearly films. Some are classics and we’ve included several of those.
Here are the Easter films critics and ministries are recommending you watch:
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
The website Christianity.com is not the only organization that lists The Passion of the Christ as the top choice for Easter movies. The role of Jim Caviezel may be the most powerful portrayal of the Messiah in movie history.
“Probably the controversial movie on this list, The Passion of the Christ was the highest-grossing R-rated movie released at the time. It’s also credited with proving there was a market for Christian films, which led to movies like Facing the Giants and God’s Not Dead,” Connor Salter states.
“Some Easter movies emphasize Jesus’s otherworldly qualities—think the ethereal blond Jesus with blue eyes in Son of God. Those movies capture Jesus’ divinity but make it hard to believe he ever worried about anything. The Passion of the Christ presents a Jesus (Jim Caviezel under makeup) who looks very Jewish and is first seen crying and trembling in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Rather than moving lightly over the crucifixion to focus on the empty tomb, The Passion of the Christ emphasizes what happened on Good Friday. We get brutal scenes of the pain Jesus went through, from him sweating blood in the garden, to the Roman floggings, to the ordeal on the cross. Satan cameos in several scenes, highlighting the doctrine that Jesus’ death defeated the powers of darkness (Colossians 3:15).
It’s streaming on Prime, Pureflix.com, AppleTV and the free service – Kanopy.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW (1964)
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, the film (it’s Italian title is Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo) is a 1964 drama of the story of Jesus based on Saint Matthew’s account. The film starts at the Nativity and runs through the Resurrection.
Why did the Italian director choose Matthew? For Pasolini, Matthew was best because “John was too mystical, Mark too vulgar and Luke too sentimental.” Jesus is played by little-known Spanish actor Enrique Irazoqu and depicted largely as a barefoot peasant. In 2015, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano called the neorealist film the best ever made about Jesus. –Clemente Lisi | ReligionUnplugged
You can stream it on Amazon, for free on Tubi with commercials or on Filmrise.
THE CHOSEN (2017)
Featuring actor Jonathan Roumie as Jesus, The Chosen is the first-ever multi-season TV series about the life of Jesus. It also features Jonathan Roumie as Jesus and the disciples played by men who are distinctively Middle Eastern rather than Europeans.
As critic Joseph Holmes wrote recently at Religion Unplugged: “The Chosen is refreshingly creative and dramatic in fleshing out the people in Jesus’ life. Nichodemus is imagined as a Pharisee who goes through a crisis of faith when he finds out Jesus can perform miracles. Matthew is a possibly autistic tax collector who struggles with his status as a Jew working for the occupying Romans. Simon Peter is in debt to the Romans and will be taken to prison if he doesn’t get any fish by morning. These additions give the characters dramatic arcs that can pay off in deeply satisfying ways. For Simon, this allows the stakes of the story to be raised so that when Jesus performs his miracle of the fish it is an act of salvation for him rather than just a miracle. Yes these creative licenses never leap so far out as to feel unfaithful to the letter or spirit of the people and narrative.” –ReligionUnplugged
Watch on The Chosen App or Youtube.
The Robe (1953)
THE ROBE is a Biblical epic focusing on the Roman tribune put in charge of carrying out the crucifixion of Jesus. The movie opens with a slave auction in Rome where Marcellus (played by Richard Burton) angers Caligula, the heir to Emperor Tiberius. Marcellus is separated from his true love Diana and sent to the most unpopular outpost in the empire, Jerusalem. Marcellus arrives just as Jesus enters Jerusalem for the Last Supper. Diana gets Tiberius to recall Marcellus, but his final task in Jerusalem is to lead the crucifixion of Jesus. While carrying out his assignment, he winds up winning the robe that was taken from Jesus when he was put on the cross. Later, Marcellus, who’s wracked by guilt for his part in the crucifixion, is assigned to track down track down Christians conspiring against the empire. When he finds some Christians and learns what they are really teaching, however, he becomes one.
This powerful story is similar to that of Paul who at first sought to persecute Christians but then became one. THE ROBE has many inspiring moments. It is a wonderful testament to the power of the Christian faith. –Movieguide.org
Watch it on the Roku channel, Prime, AppleTV, and more.
The Jesus Film
The Jesus Film is a powerful and engaging Easter movie for kids of all ages, whether as part of Easter activities for kids, or any time of year.
It is the most watched film in history, “having been viewed billions of times has now been re-mastered in high-definition with a complete new musical score in Dolby 5.1 surround sound. The JESUS Film is a faithful depiction of Christ s birth, ministry, death and resurrection as told in the biblical account from the Gospel of Luke. Virtually every word Jesus speaks in The JESUS Film is quoted from Scripture, with 450 leaders and scholars having reviewed the script for biblical accuracy. Further historical accuracy was ensured using clothing, pottery and other props made with first-century methods to portray a 2,000-year-old Jewish culture at the time,” according to Amazon.com.
You can watch the full movie below for free:
The website ChristCenteredHolidays.com writes that “The Jesus Film tells the whole story of Jesus’ life as told through the Gospel of Luke. It includes a poignant, accurate and powerful retelling of the Resurrection and the true Easter story, making it an excellent Easter movie to show kids.
This is the movie that missionaries show all over the world as an evangelistic tool. My husband and I had the opportunity to show it to a tribe of the Dinka people in Southern Sudan while we were on a missions trip there a few years ago!
It’s a classic Easter movie that’s perfect for kids of all ages! Share this Easter movie with your kids and talk about it afterward as a family.”
If you don’t already own this awesome Easter movie for adults AND kids you can get it on Amazon.
–Compiled by Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice