Just want to wish everyone a blessed Easter. This weekend I’m celebrating the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… forever grateful for His atoning sacrifice.
Even those who aren’t believers might opt to watch some Christian-themed films this time of year, such as The Ten Commandments (should be on by now on one of the major network TV), King of Kings, Ben-Hur, The Passion of the Christ, or the animated feature The Prince of Egypt for the whole family.
I truly respect The Passion despite all the drama surrounding the film and the filmmaker. Obviously the message speaks to me in a profound way, but even if we strip away the spiritual aspect of it for a minute and just see the movie from a film-making piece, it’s tremendous. I like what this guy said in his soulfoodmovies blog: “Simply take a moment to judge The Passion of the Christ on its merits as a film. Look at all the elements that come together to make it so effective–the performances of the actors; the exquisite cinematography; the realistic effects; and ultimately, the way Gibson structures this chapter in the life of Christ.”
The story’s not meant to be a comprehensive biopic on Jesus’ life, but serves as a harrowing and poignant depiction of the extent of Christ’s suffering and His unfathomable passion for humanity. It’s not for kids or for the faint of hearts though. Never in my life have I been so shaken and moved watching a movie… it’s definitely one of the most powerful movies ever made.
While those above are all perfectly good films that are fitting for Easter, here are three other inspirational titles I’d highly recommend, not just for the holiday, but for any other time of the year:
Amazing Grace (2006)
This movie’s release coincide with the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the first anti-slave trade bill, ending 400 years of slave trading. The main protagonist, William Wilberforce is a faithful British member of Parliament. Ioan Gruffud is excellent in the title role, conveying the emotional and physical struggles battling illness and one setback after another in the two decades he fought to end slave trading in England.
Along the way, he’s encouraged by his mentor John Newton (portrayed marvelously by Albert Finney), the author of the beloved hymn of the movie’s title, a repentant former slave trader. He’s also helped by his allies, PM William Pitt, a scholarly former slave Olaudah Equiano, as well as his loving and influential wife, Barbara Spooner.
Though it’s heavy on the history and political aspect, but the redemptive values aren’t lost in the process. It’s one of those rare Hollywood films with a deep passion for goodness and virtue that’s entertaining as well as inspiring. The performances of mostly-British talents (Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rufus Sewell, etc.) are top notch, but ultimately it’s the profound message and inspiring story that makes this a winning feature.
Bella (2006 – view trailer)
This is an indie movie by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gomez Monteverde about an unconventional love story between a former soccer star who’ve lost everything after a tragic accident and a waitress who’s pregnant out of wedlock. The film won People’s Choice Award atTIFF in 2006. It’s not a romantic story, but definitely has plenty of heart. Beautifully acted by Mexican heartthrob Eduaro Verastequi in a personal project that reflect his new direction in life, it also boast a strong performance by Tammy Blanchard (who played Judy Garland in a TV movie Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows).
The pro-life message and subtle message about faith is subtle and not done in a preachy way, these are two ‘broken’ people who find comfort in each other in one day, as they discuss the hardships of life and past hurts. The bond that develop between the two main characters feel natural and engaging, carrying poignant themes of family values, genuine friendship and the healing power of forgiveness.
The Gospel of John (2003)
I see this film as a great feature for before or after seeing ‘The Passion’ as it chronicles Jesus’ ministry more closely in its three-hour running time. It’s a unique biopic of the life, death and resurrection of Christ in that it’s adapted precisely Word for Word from the Good News Translation Bible, unlike a lot of other adaptations that took too much liberty from the source material.
At first I wasn’t sure how it’d sound how it would translate to the screen and whether the dialog would be awkward, but it’s actually quite effective and engaging. Told from the eyes of one of Jesus’ disciples, John — known as John the evangelist and the disciple whom Jesus loved — the film offers a very human picture of Jesus and a more intimate look of how he interacted with his disciples and people in his day.
Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond in LOST) as Jesus is interesting casting, he’s certainly not Jewish-looking enough (but not bad compared to the blue-eyed, blond-haired Anglo-Saxon archetypal in previous Jesus’ films) and more feisty than we’ve seen Jesus being portrayed. Yet he still conveys a compassionate man who’s personal and approachable, but yet charismatic enough to be believable that he could captivate a crowd.
Narrated with Christopher Plummer’s deep, soothing voice, it also boasts beautiful cinematography of the setting in Málaga, Spain and the gorgeous music using ancient instruments to achieve the authentic sounds of the time that help takes us back in time. Whatever your belief of who Jesus is, you’d appreciate the backstory of arguably the most influential religious figure in history.
Have a wonderful Easter, everybody! Have you seen any of these titles? What do you typically watch around Easter holiday?