The Absolute Best Biblical Movies to Watch this April
Despite the rampant marketing and materialism of Christmas, April is really the holiest month of the year. Lent and its many half holy-days give way to Easter. The majority of Ramadan takes place in April and will see millions fasting throughout the daylight hours. Of course Passover, arguably the most appropriated holiday, finds itself in the shadows of Easter as well. It’s a time when many are the most open to religious and spiritual wisdom. This list isn’t for those people.
If you would rather nod along to your coworkers witnessing to you during the day and go home to a more subversive religious experience, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’d rather a more creative interpretation of millennia-old stories. Whatever brought you here, these are without a doubt the most entertaining and best biblical movies ever made. Even if some aren’t mentioned in your Bible.
Life of Brian
Monty Python takes on the biblical epic. This movie has probably done more culturally and spiritually than any other religious film. Eric Idle’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is the most played song at funerals in the UK.
Jesus Christ Superstar
For the musical fans and hippies out there. JCS is loaded with incredible songs and choreography, but it is the combination of low-budget set design and time period-blending costumes that are most unique here. So incredibly stuck in the 70s and yet the viewer is totally drawn into the world created. I’m a fan of any humanizing portrayal of Judas.
Prince of Egypt
How about a pause from the Easter theme for a bit and take a look at the only cartoon on this list. Val Kilmer and Ralph Fiennes co-star as Moses and Ramses, respectively. Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, and Danny Glover round out the rest of the cast. I don’t know who the casting director was, but bravo on thinking outside the box. “Look Through Heaven’s Eyes” is a banger though.
History of the World Part I
Mel Brooks took his own shot at the biblical epic with this film that handles both Passover and Easter, among a few other major historical moments. The humor is top notch and I’ll never hear the phrase “Ten Commandments” without imagining Brooks’ Moses dropping a stone, “These fifteen (smash)…ten, ten commandments.”
The Last Temptation of Christ
If you liked the sweet Jesus and street-smart Judas of Jesus Christ Superstar, you’ll love this movie. Harvey Keitel plays a badass Judas who is just trying to keep his weak friend (Willem Defoe) from getting himself killed. Truly one of the most interesting portrayals of the Jesus/Judas dynamic and one that certainly riles up the more devout. Scorsese should team up with Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) more often.
Jay and Silent Bob help prevent the end of existence by defeating Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Chris Rock plays Rufus, the 13th apostle who was written out of the Bible because he was black. An amazing cast rounds out this brilliant absurdity. George Carlin as a corrupt priest, Alanis Morrisette as God, and Selma Hayek as an angelic muse turned stripper. Unfortunately, it may be hard to find to stream as it has found itself tied up in the muck of the Weinstein corporation.
The Kingdom of Heaven (Directors Cut)
Ok, this is decidedly not a biblical film, but does contain all three of the Abrahamic faiths tearing each other apart. Ridley Scott gives us true believers, hypocrites, and everything in between in this Crusades epic. Do yourself a favor and take time to watch the Director’s Cut. The theatrical release is an abomination.
Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and All the other Bible movies from the 40s, 50s, and 60s
Hollywood occasionally gets caught up in a genre for a few years and it seems every new movie is just a copycat of something else. We’re currently at the hopeful end of the new superhero craze started by the Marvel franchise. One genre that always seems to get its due is the “Swords and Sandals” films. The last few iterations of this were based in Greece and Troy. During the 40s, 50s, and 60s many were decidedly biblical.
So, take your pick. Ben Hur is my personal favorite, where Jesus gives us an occasional cameo between all the chariot races and ship battles. The Ten Commandments will certainly be on television, typically taking up a network’s entire evening as the epic plus commercials is endless. Charlton Heston steals the show and it’s Cecil DeMille’s opus. Many consider these two to be the greatest epics ever made. If you want more Yul Brynner, I’m sure he’s in at least one of these from the same era: Barabbas, David and Bethsheba, Solomon and Sheba, Salome, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Samson and Delilah (1949), The Robe.