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Movies About Jesus: 15 Christian Films

by Greg on January 19, 2013

Christian Movies that are centered around Christ are my favorite.  Here is my list of the top 15 movies from the “Jesus” genre.  You will find movies spanning 7 decades and also several movies offering different perspectives of who’s eyes the movie is seen through.  There are lots of great actors that have portrayed Jesus over the years, but I feel none did it as genuinely as Jim Caviezel in the Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ”.  Notice other big names such as Christian Bale and Jeremy Sisto also playing the King of Kings.  Countdown all 15 with us, there are plenty that cover the entire life and ministry of Jesus.

15. The Gospel According to Matthew (1964)

Director- Pier Paolo Pasalini

Writer- Pier Paolo Pasolini

Stars- Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso, Susanna Pasolini

The story of the life and work of Jesus as told through the Gospel of Matthew.  Covering Jesus teaching the disciples by using parables, and garnering the attention of the pharisee’s.  Leading up to his arrest, beating, and crucifixion.  This movie was nominated for 3 Academy Awards.

“Pasolini’s is one of the most effective films on a religious theme I have ever seen…”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

14. Jesus (1979)

Director- John Krish, Peter Sykes

Writer- Barnet Bain

Stars- Brian Deacon, Rivka Neuman, Alexander Scourby

Released in 1979 this film covers everything from the miraculous birth through the resurrection.  The writing is based of the book of Luke from the New Testament.

“The Truth” Matthew 6:34 Jesus Speaking: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

13. King of Kings (1961)

Director- Nicholas Ray

Writer- Phillip Yordan

Stars- Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield

Another story covering the full life of Jesus including the baptism, disciples, and miracles.  This movie begins by showing the invasion which led to the crowning of King Heron.  A recent screening of this film in a New York museum proved the durability of the movie as fans were subdued by the showing.

12. Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999)

Director- Kevin Connor

Writer- Albert Ross

Stars- Christian Bale, Pernilla August, Melinda Kinnaman

A film where we see it from a different side as the story unfolds through Mary’s eyes.  Some rather big name stars in this movie with Jesus being portrayed by Christian Bale (Batman).  And also Pernilla August who also plays Anakin Skywalker’s Mom in Episode 1.

11. Pontius Pilate (1962)

Director- Gian Paolo Callegari, Irving Rapper

Writer- Oreste Biancoli, Gian Paolo Callegari

Stars- Jean Marais, Jeanne Crain, Basi Rathbone

“The Truth” Isaiah 9:6 Prophecy: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the Government will rest on his shoulders; And his name will be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

10. The Miracle Maker (2000)

Director- Derek W. Hayes, Stanislav Sokolov

Writer- Murray Watts

Stars- Ralph Fiennes, Michael Bryant, Julie Christie

Very interesting animation depiction of the life of Christ.  Ralph Fiennes takes the lead as the voice of Jesus.  Several other great actors are cast in this film.  An excellent selection for younger viewers.

9. Jesus of Nazareth (1977 TV)

Writer- Anthony Burgess, Suso Cecchi D’Amico

Stars- Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey, Laurence Olivier, Anne Bancroft, Christopher Plummer

“The Truth” 1 John 3:20-21 Jesus Speaking: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

8. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (2003)

Director- Regardt Van Den Bergh

Writer- Johann Potgieter

Stars- Richard Kiley, Bruce Marchiano, Gerritt Schoonhoven

Also known as “The Visual Bible:  Matthew” this movie is now available on DVD.  The film recounts the life of Jesus from the Gospel Matthew.  And what a powerful story it is to hear the good news of Jesus.

7. The Robe (1953)

Director- Henry Koster

Writer- Phillip Dunne, Gina Kaus

Stars- Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature

Marcellus is a tribune who is in lead of the group assigned to crucify Christ.  Following the event, Marcellus has won Jesus’ Robe.  He struggles with trying to cope and find a way to live with what he’s done.  As he is tortured by delusions and night terrors he travels to Palestine to learn more of the man he’s just helped kill.

"There are lots of great actors that have portrayed Jesus over the years, but I feel none did it as genuinely as Jim Caviezel in the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ."

“There are lots of great actors that have portrayed Jesus over the years, but I feel none did it as genuinely as Jim Caviezel in the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ.”

6. Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

Director- Norman Jewison

Writer- Melvynn Bragg, Norman Jewison

Stars- Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman

Often incorrectly labeled a musical, it is actually a “Rock Opera”.  There are no spoken lines, everything is sung out.  The film focuses on the final 6 days of the life of Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.

5. The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

Director- George Stevens

Writer- Fulton Oursler, Henry Denker

Stars- Max Von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Charlton Heston

An epic classic by George Stevens, this movie asks the question of has God forsaken Jesus?  This movie was nominated for 5 Academy Awards.  They nailed it (no pun intended) with the title as there is no greater story than that of our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. The Visual Bible:  The Gospel of John (2003)

Director- Phillip Saville

Writer- John Goldsmith

Stars- Henry Ian Cusick, Daniel Kash, Christopher Plummer

This movie is narrated by Christopher Plummer and is the life of Jesus Christ as it was told by the apostle John.  This film has received good reviews and ratings, although it was released in 2003 so it may have been overshadowed by the soon after “Passion of the Christ” which was right on its heels in 2004.  And for any “LOST” fans out there please notice the actor who played Desmond is cast as Jesus.  This makes sense seeing as how Christ is “constant”.

3. The Nativity Story (2006)

Director- Catherine Hardwicke

Writer- Mike Rich

Stars- Keisha Castle-Hughes, Shohreh Agdashloo, Oscar Isaac

Released in 2006, this is the second highest grossing box office film on the list after “The Passion”.  The story focuses on the hardships of Mary and Joseph and things led up to a big miracle in a little manger.  Keisha Castle-Hughes is phenomenal as Mary.

2. Jesus (1999 TV)

Director- Roger Couture

Writer- Suzette Couture

Stars- Jeremy Sisto, Debra Messing, Gary Oldman

This is an all encompassing look at the life and times of our Lord Jesus Christ.  A full cast of big named stars.  The tagline on this movie based off its release date is “2000 years ago one man changed the world forever.”  This is true and an understatement for sure, but this movie does a good job of showing the full life and importance of Jesus.

“The Truth” John 18:36 Jesus Speaking: “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the jews. But my kingdom is not from this world.”

1.The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Director- Mel Gibson

Writer- Benedict Fitzgerald, Mel Gibson

Stars- Jim Caviezel, Monica Belluci, Maia Morgenstern

The Passion is an amazing movie with incredible acting and directing.  Jim Caviezel gives the best portrayal of Christ by a landslide.  Mel Gibson had great vision in the making of this film, he credited that to the Holy Spirit and prayer.  This movie received 3 Oscar nominations.

Conclusion

Hope you found this list informational and enjoyable.  Please give us at F&E feedback in the comments as to whether you like this article or we missed any of your favorite movies about Christ.  God Bless, Jesus is King!

Resources:  IMDB.com, www.youtube.com, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

photo credit: midiman via photopin cc





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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jun Miranda January 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I am from Canada but currently doing missionary work here in the Philippines on my own initiative. One of my ministries is to visit and share the Word of God with the poor (adults and children). I bought a projector so I could show them Christian movies downloaded from youtube. Your list of recommended Christian movies is very helpful to me and I would like to receive more information in the future.

Reply

Derek Hill January 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Hello Jun. Thank you for commenting. I am so glad you liked the list of movies. God bless you for traveling to the Philippines to do missionary work. If you have access to facebook, please like us and then you will receive an article posting every time we have one. Then you will always be updated. God bless you!

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Jack Wellman January 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Great selection indeed. For me, being a history lover, the Passion of the Christ is my favorite and appears to be one of the most historically accurate ones. When I watch it, it always makes me fall on my face, hands, and knees in tears for what God has done for me and for us all.

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Derek Hill January 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more Jack. The Passion of the Christ rips at my soul every time I watch it. To realize that my sin was part of the reason he endured so much agony is truly heartbreaking. God bless you brother!

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Tojo January 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

I agree with most of those.
I am annoyed by people who assert The Passion Of The Christ is too violent. It is the most realistic film I have seen. When people realise how much Jesus suffered on that day they may realise what He endured for us.

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Derek Hill January 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I agree with you Tojo. The Passion of the Christ is my favorite Christian movie and it depicts Jesus’ pain and agony very well. People don’t like it because they don’t want to have to think about how much he suffered. That’s my personal opinion. God bless you and thanks for stopping by F&E!

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Cedric Klein July 31, 2013 at 10:11 pm

For one you missed, check the 1920s silent original KING OF KINGS directed by Cecil B. DeMille & starring H.B. Warner as Jesus. Great artistry, some inventive insights, a charming scene in which a little girl asks Jesus to “heal” her broken doll (I’ve always assumed He just used His carpentry skills on things like that *S), AND certain scenes that sure look like they were lifted for “Passion of the Christ”.

H.B. Warner, btw, is best known for playing Mr. Gower, the pharmacist in It’s A Wonderful Life.

Finally, you included Jesus Christ Superstar (which I love) but left out Godspell?

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Derek Hill August 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Hello Cedric! Thank you for your suggestions! Everyone has their favorites for sure and we appreciate you showing us yours! Thank you for stopping by our site and may God bless you!

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Bill McCarthy January 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Hi, I am very frustrated with the absolute drivel that is mostly presented as biblical film. Most are mainly so badly written, that any resemblance to the actual stories is lost because of “artistic license” (e.g. Prince of Egypt or (the TV) The Bible); or the acting is completely stilted (e.g. actors happily smiling stupidly at each other, or showing enraptured faces in, of course, freshly cleaned period costumes). Or, ridiculous situations such as the many films showing Mary and Joseph walking to Bethlehem alone in the wilderness instead of in a caravan where they would be protected from bandits and wild animals. Finally, why do the Jesus films not connect with a glowing, warm, visceral impact, instead of a rather empty feeling or even a strange foreign feeling (e.g. Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth)?

About the only biblical films I did find enjoyable and feasible were The Passion (although there were some weird scenes), and Amazing Love (too bad it didn’t just deal with Hosea – of course, it had to show the ridiculous part with the kids off on a camping trip).

Why or why do all the deep compelling films have to originate in secular Hollywood. Where is the biblical film maker’s genious and artistry?

As for the genre of Christian film, I would rather not insult the many well intended people who produce these films. All I can say is I would rather watch the Hallmark Channel films before I watched these amateurish attempts at portraying real religious experiences. About the only film in this genre I did enjoy a bit was Bella.

(Same why oh why as above.)

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Derek Hill January 25, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Hello Bill. I understand what you are saying so let me say this. As humans we will all make mistakes and fail miserably at times. However, if men and women of Hollywood want to tackle films about the Christian faith, could it be that maybe they will be drawn to God in the process? God does miracles everywhere. Look at Paul, he persecuted Christians with passion until God intervened. Paul watched Stephen be stoned to death before he met God on the road to Demascus. You never know who God will affect and even though these movies might not be straight on with every single word, they may definitely lead some to Christ! Thank you for your thoughts and God bless!

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