Religious Themed Movies
Derek Ciapala: The best religious movie I’ve ever seen is “Courageous.” It’s more than just about God. It’s a deeper look at what it means to be a good father, and the commitment it takes to consistently improve in that role. It features probably the best acting in any of the Kendrick brothers’ films, which is important considering how much criticism Christian films have received in the past. Finally, it’s probably the funniest Christian movie I’ve seen. It’s well-worth watching.
Tamica Phipps” I was going to say something like Seven or Stigmata until Shawn S. Lealos mentioned George Burns. I had forgotten about those “Oh God!” movies. My Mom and I used to watch them all the time. That man (and his iconic cigars) were hilarious.
Tree of Life
Caleb Masters: Terrence Malick isn’t a director I get to write about often, but when I do you better believe I’m going to write nothing but great things about his movies. His storytelling always has an abstract sort of edge to it and my pick for his 2011 film The Tree of Life is no exception.
The film is touching on a number of Malick’s own ideas on God but at its core it’s about a son coming to terms with his own childhood and the uneasy history he has with his father. Brad Pitt plays the well meaning but abusive father whose broken dreams trickle in and breaks his family after years of disappointment. The core of this story parallels the book of Job where Job cries out to his heavenly father after his own life and family has been destroyed. In a not so straight forward manner, The Tree of Life portrays the beauty and majesty of God and the creation on a macro level while also describing an incredibly personable, complicated, and intimate father/son story of between God and mankind.
Every once in a while we all get to see a movie that challenges us on such a level that it actually changes our lives. The Tree of Life was such an impactful film that it moved me to tears and in many ways inspired me to pursue a career as a writer. It’s a beautifully layered film encompassing so much of my own struggle with with spirituality but is also very universal to what it means to be a human being living in a world full of well meaning but broken people. I love The Tree of Life and can’t recommend it highly enough.
*Darren Aronosky’s The Fountain is a close second and actually works as a strong companion piece to The Tree of Life
Allison Fleischer: Ten Commandments is one of the few biblical movies I love. It truly is an epic and such an incredible achievement for that time. The acting, story telling and special effects are incredible given the time it was made. While it may not be the most accurate film it is one of the more enjoyable films.
Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons
Mike Luxemburg: Stephen Chow’s recent film Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons is an adaptation of a story about Buddhism. I think that counts. It’s an awesome movie that does in the end, after so much amazing kung-fu, end up making a statement about the nature of power and belief. While being relentlessly entertaining, excellently acted, and visually extraordinary, Journey To The West does relay some real Buddhist, and human, lessons. It’s definitely worth watching. Sometimes you learn things in the last place you look.
Derek Johns: Clocking in at around four hours, Ben-Hur takes much patience to watch all the way through but in the end it’s very much worth it. An epic story full of betrayal, loss, redemption, forgiveness and has an awesome chariot race scene to boot. Honorable mention goes to another Charlton Heston, The Ten Commandments.
Bethany Lewis: Science fiction fans might not often think of religion in relation to the scientifically advanced and enlightened futures that are often portrayed in the genre, but sometimes the complicated dynamic between science and religion can make for an even more interesting and complex story. In the case of the movie Stargate (1994) and it’s superior TV spin off SG1 (1997), the myths of religion are explained through the existence of an alien race called the Goa’ould who are the original models for the Egyptian gods. Later, Norse mythology (as well as UFO/Abductee culture) is revealed to have its roots in a little grey alien race called the Asgard. The ins and outs of these alien races and how they relate back to the religions of Earth grow increasingly complex and make for an interesting and unique take on the diverse beliefs of the Earth’s various cultures.
Eric Norcross: Fuck it, I’m sold on Stargate.
Life of Brian
Shawn S. Lealos: I was teetering between three movies. The first was possibly the most famous horror movie to ever deal with religion in The Exorcist and the second was a little known horror movie that most people need to see in Frailty. However, I had to go with a Monty Python comedy, Life of Brian. The movie is about a dude named Brian who was born in a stable next to Jesus and was mistaken for Christ for most of his life. The movie was produced and financed by none other than Ringo Starr of The Beatles and is – in my opinion – the best Monty Python movie, even better than the Holy Grail.