By Jonathan Dorst
Holy Week is the highlight of the Christian calendar, the week when the church remembers and dramatizes the events between Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) and His resurrection (Easter). In addition to the two Sundays, many churches celebrate Maundy-Thursday, the night when Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples (see John 13-17), and Good Friday, the day when Jesus was crucified and laid in the tomb.
2020 will be a year that will be remembered for many things, but one very sad thing we’ll remember is not being able to be together, as the church, during Holy Week. So, we’ll do the next best thing: worship together by ourselves or with our immediate families. Along with reading the Scriptures, watching worship livestreams, and singing worship songs together, allow me to recommend some movies for you to watch.
Some of these movies were made by Christians, and others were not. Some are direct dramatizations of the biblical events, while others are only symbolic of the events. But, all are worth pondering, I think. They’re listed in alphabetical order by event, three each.
Babette’s Feast (PG)- A beautiful story about a religious community that is brought together by a sacrificial, but extravagant, meal.
Chocolat (PG-13)- This one’s a little bit of a stretch, but part of Jesus’ message to His disciples at the Last Supper is “that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” While Juliette Binoche’s Vianne is not necessarily a Christian role model, she does bring joy and feasting to a legalistic, pharisaical town.
Jesus of Nazareth (PG)- The 1979 TV movie is a pretty faithful rendering of Jesus’ life, including a good scene of the Last Supper. You might need to make this a multi-night watch- it’s 6 hours and 22 minutes (or you could just watch the Last Supper scene on YouTube).
The Iron Giant (PG)- A visitor from out of this world sacrifices himself to make peace on earth.
The Passion of the Christ (R)- This movie does a good job of telling the story of the crucifixion in a visceral way, but what it doesn’t get (and maybe no movie could get) is that the hardest part of Jesus’ suffering was not the physical pain, but the spiritual pain that came from being separated by the Father and becoming sin for us.
War For the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)- The whole trilogy is a parallel to Moses’ story in Exodus, but this last movie casts Caesar as a Christ figure, sacrificing himself to bring his community to free his people.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe- I personally love the animated 1979 version (PG), as it is the most faithful to the book, but the 2005 version (PG) will do in a pinch.
Risen (PG-13)- The resurrection told through the eyes of a Roman solder tasked with investigating the case of a missing dead body.
The Tree of Life (PG-13)- As a meditation on the book of Job that is told mainly through visuals, we follow a family grieving the loss of a son/brother until, like Job prophesied (Job 19:25-26), they experience a bodily resurrection.
(Originally published at https://www.riveroakstulsa.com/blog/post/movies-for-holy-week)