see jesus christ superstar on amazon.
2. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
“what would have happened if jesus had bottled it?” It’s the basic premise of Nikos Kazantzakis’s 1955 novel, Hollywoodized by Catholic Martin Scorsese, fulfilling his lifelong ambition to make a movie about Jesus.
Despite a careful “this is not real” disclaimer at first, the film’s infamy sparked attacks on theaters with many refusing to show it, with several major video stores following suit. Apparently, depicting Jesus tempted by the idea of marriage was inexcusable. (ironically)
It’s a shame many people avoid this movie on principle because it’s fantastic, full of “never thought of it like that” moments and a liveliness that makes hackneyed bible verses sound fresh. A thoughtful script and wild-eyed performance from Willem Dafoe make it easy to imagine just how crazy the Nazarene might have appeared.
Interestingly, it’s not the lure of sexual attraction that Dafoe’s Jesus really focuses on, but the simple pleasures of family life. perhaps it is the most insidious temptation. Who wouldn’t rather play with their children than fight the nature of their own divinity, fight the political system, and start a new religion? It’s an absolutely compelling story of a man tortured by the conviction that God has a job for him that he doesn’t want.
see the last temptation of christ on amazon.
1. The Miracle Maker (2000)
The television shows of the 1990s testament: the bible in animation and shakespeare: the animated tales had already made stop-motion animation a popular option to retell old stories. here it was used to create a delightful film that accomplishes in 90 minutes what some labyrinthine epics fail to accomplish in several hours. the political atmosphere of the time is well drawn and the events are clearly summed up with a well-written script full of parables and miracles.
We see the events through the eyes of a young woman who has her own miracle at the hands of Jesus (voiced by Ralph Fiennes). she watches as the local carpenter becomes known for his spiritual teachings and the establishment becomes wary of a possible political explosion.
for a children’s film, there is an amazing amount of intelligent information about the characters’ feelings and motivations. it’s also beautifully done, touching and funny.
see the miracle worker on amazon.
Book of Life (1999): It’s a bit incoherent, but there are some great moments in the Hal Hartley story where jesus has doubts about judgment day and tells satan “It’s not that you” are so despicable, it’s just that you’re so incredibly trite.”
civilization (1915): one of the first times jesus was portrayed on film, he appears to an inventor of submarines to urge him to promote peace, not war.
the young messiah (2016): unfortunately, showing jesus as a child seems a bit of a foreshadowing, especially when he starts doing supernatural tricks. Based on Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, it begs the interesting question of how much the young Jesus understood of his place in the world.
jesus (1999): standard version of the gospels, with debra messing as mary magdalene and gary oldman enjoying his role as pontius pilate.
Last Days in the Desert (2015): Breathtakingly beautiful, this is an alternate version of the 40 days that Jesus (Ewan McGregor) spends in the desert. Unfortunately, it only sizzles when Satan (also McGregor) is on screen and looking for flaws in God’s methodology.