Everyone has a favourite movie when it comes to Christmas, but what about Easter?
There has been a veritable feast of Easter-related films down the years, covering the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Taking in those glorious early epics from Cecil B. DeMille and running through to Mel Gibson’s recent foray into the subgenre, here are nine of the best Easter movies on the planet.
9. The Greatest Story Ever Told
This Biblical epic sees Max Von Sydow deliver a powerhouse performance as Jesus, chronicling the life of Christ from Nativity through to Resurrection. It boasts a great cast too that incudes Charlton Heston, Angela Lansbury, Jose Ferrer, Telly Savalas and Dorothy McGuire and Claude Rains.
8. The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson’s bold and brutal film chronicles the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life (ably played by Jim Caviezel) from his arrest and trial through to his crucifixion. It remains the most successful non-English language film of all-time, with all of the dialogue performed in Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew.
7. Ben Hur
Charlton Heston wows in this 11-time Oscar-winning epic famous for its stunning nine-minute chariot race sequence. Heston plays Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish merchant framed for an act he did not commit who must rise up from slavery to fight back and return to the woman he loves.
6. The Last Temptation of Christ
Martin Scorsese’s controversial retelling of the life of Jesus sees Willem Dafoe take on the titular role, tasked with overcome a series of Earthly temptations during his crucifixion. Dafoe is ably supported by Jesus, Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot, Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene, Harry Dean Stanton as Paul and David Bowie as Pontius Pilate.
5. The Ten Commandments
This stone-cold DeMille classic seed Charlton Heston back on familiar Biblical ground as Moses, the man tasked with liberating his Hebrew people from captivity. Going up against him is Yul Brynner’s Egyptian pharaoh Ramses, his friend turned foe. Plagues and parting seas ensue.
4. The Gospel According to St. Matthew
Pier Paolo Pasolini's black and white Italian language Biblical drama chronicles the life and times of Jesus Christ (Enrique Irazoquia) as he travels along the coast of the Sea of Galilee, gather followers and garnering unwanted attention. Beautifully shot and perfectly soundtracked, it's a fine meditation on the meaning of faith.
3. Jesus of Nazareth
This TV mini-series from Italian filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli serves as a who’s who of British acting talent. Robert Powell stars as Jesus, alongside a cast that includes Christopher Plummer, Anne Bancroft, Laurence Olivier, Claudia Cardinale, Ian McShane, James Mason, Olivia Hussey, Anthony Quinn and Iain Holm.
2. The Robe
Richard Burton plays Roman commander Marcellus Gallio, who wins the robe worn by Jesus during his crucifixion. He is soon haunted by nightmares of the act he participated in and comes to understand what Jesus was trying to achieve, with dramatic results.
1. Jesus Christ Superstar
Based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical of the same name, this enjoyably rock opera follows the final few weeks of Jesus’s life with Ted Neely cast in the main role and ably supported by Carl Anderson as Judas and Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene.