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7 great films about Christianity

There's a sequel to "God's Not Dead 2" out this weekend. The faithful deserve better movies than that —like these.
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    "Ordet"

    |Janus Films

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    Enrique Irazoqui, a non-pro at the time, played Jesus in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Ita|Janus Films

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    We're fans of Norman Jewison's oft-silly film version of "Jesus Christ Superstar,"|Universal Pictures

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    Robert Duvall wrote, directed and starred in "The Apostle."

    |Provided

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    A typically abstract composition in the hypnotic monk doc "Into Great Silence."

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    Lambert Wilson, center, leads a group of monks who try to find meaning in their fo|Sony Pictures Classics

‘The Flowers of St. Francis’ (1950)
One of the best films by Italian neo-realist Roberto Rossellini is this episodic hang with dutiful and charming Franciscan friars, who help the poor and their community and generally reinforce the notion that religion can be a great force for good. ("The Flowers of St. Francis" streams on Hulu)

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‘Ordet’ (1955)
Religion has no better filmic artist than Carl Theodor Dreyer, the Danish creator of “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” "Day of Wrath" and this gutting exploration of faith. Even a stone-cold atheist won’t be unmoved by an ending where miracles really do come true. ("Ordet" streams on Hulu, as do "Joan of Arc" and "Day of Wrath")

‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’ (1964)
The best movie about Jesus was made by a gay atheist. Deal. Pier Paolo Pasolini reimagines the Messiah’s life as a gritty black-and-white look at him as a social justice warrior for the downtrodden, played by a dour (but still very photogenic) non-professional. ("The Gospel According to St. Matthew" streams on Hulu)

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ (1973)
We have a soft spot for that strange period when Jesus became cool with the hippies. Alongside “Godspell,” there’s Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera, which got a kitschy but catchy movie with cinema’s best ever Judas, Carl Anderson. (Sorry, Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese's “The Last Temptation of Christ” — an actually blasphemous but brilliant movie we’re too afraid to put on this list.) ("Jesus Christ Superstar" can be rented on Amazon Instant)

‘The Apostle’ (1998)
Yes, Robert Duvall’s directorial debut concerns a preacher who kicks off the movie by drunkenly killing his ex-wife’s new husband with a bat. But what follows is a redemption tale and a look at a Southern community that’s bigger than mere religion. ("The Apostle" can be rented on Amazon Instant)

'Into Great Silence' (2005)
Only the truly cine-faithful need apply to this epic documentary, which spends three hours filming the Carthusian monks of Grande Chartruse in the Alps. They're the ones who distill the tasty but intense Chartreuse liqueur, though they spend their lives — and almost the entirety of the film — doing nothing but praying alone or together...except for one magical scene where they take a break and go sledding. It's so beautifully, hypnotically, transcendently slow that even an atheist will start seeing God.("Into Great Silence" streams on Amazon Instant...but only if you're a subscriber to the SundanceNow Doc Club)

‘Of Gods and Men’ (2010)
While Republican presidential candidates talk about actually persecuting the world’s Muslim population, this French docudrama gently and optimistically argues for tolerance and understanding — all while telling a true story about monks killed by Islamist extremists. ("Of Gods and Men" can be rented on Amazon Instant)

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 

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