The Easter season has become a favorite time of year for families to watch movies about Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection, and other biblical stories that point to the savior. Below are a few recommended shows for families, kids, and adults that will help keep the focus on Christ and his amazing gift of salvation. (Yes, it’s an incomplete list. Please add other favorites in the comment section.)
Classics for the whole family:
Ben Hur (1959): Opening with the birth of Christ, it ends with his crucifixion, changing the lives of Judah ben Hur (Charlton Heston), a wealthy Jew who had been falsely accused and imprisoned by the Romans and was now back in Jerusalem seeking revenge. This story of redemption continues to inspire, even leading to a 2016 remake.
The Greatest Story Ever Told: From birth to death to resurrection, the life of Jesus unfolds at a stately pace. At almost four hours long, this 1965 epic progresses slowly compared to today’s fast-paced, shifting-viewpoints cinematography style. Adults may recognize many major actors in bit roles, while kids can experience a grown-up version of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life.
The Ten Commandments: Charlton Heston as Moses leads his people out of Egypt in this 1956 Hollywood epic. Why Easter?
Of course, it does not refer to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but it does tell the story of Passover, the major Jewish feast during which Jesus was killed.
Best for young children:
VeggieTales: An Easter Carol and Twas the Night Before Easter Both of these animated tales focus on the meaning of Easter rather than directly refer to Jesus. But the kid-favorite veggie characters will delight children while the stories provide an open door for parents to expand upon the meaning of Easter.
The Easter Story Keepers: A kindly baker relates the story behind the miracle of Easter Sunday, while Nero’s persecution of Christians rages outside their sanctuary. This animated feature teaches kids about Christian values, faith, and the story of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the good of mankind.
Best for teens and adults:
Risen: The most recent major movie to address the crucifixion of Jesus, this story follows a Roman centurion who was assigned to finish the work of crucifying Jesus and the two criminals. His experience in the following days as he attempts to track down the Christ’s disciples will inspire the whole family.
The Passion of the Christ: This 2004 film directed by Mel Gibson is known for its graphic depiction of the violent scourging and crucifixion of Jesus. It opens in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus prays and closes with a brief vision of the Resurrection. A powerful picture of what Jesus suffered, it may be too strong for youth and others sensitive to violence. (parental guidance advised)
The Case for Christ: Based on the life of author Lee Strobel. An investigative journalist and self-proclaimed atheist sets out to disprove the existence of God after his wife becomes a Christian. An ideal Easter-season movie release, it shares a compelling, real-life story about the power of the Cross. It released April 7, 2017.
A.D. The Bible Continues, produced by husband/wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, picks up the story of Jesus at his crucifixion and explores the exciting and inspiring events that followed in the life of the early church. Four discs featuring all 12 episodes plus exclusive special features are included.