Unlike Christmas, with its more marketable associations to Santa Claus, flying reindeer and snowmen that mysteriously come to life, Hollywood typically tends to shy away from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and its bizarre association with a bunny that hides chocolate eggs. Go figure.
Still, while Easter may be hard to find at your local multiplex these days, cinema is not without a few classics that mark this season’s biggest holiday. So, if you are in the mood for some Easter-themed entertainment, you may consider having a Good Friday at home with one of these five movies instead:
• The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965): A chronicle of Christ’s life, Max von Sydow stars in what has been described as the “definitive movie of the Easter story.” More than that, where else are you able to get Pat Boone, Sidney Poitier, Telly Savalas and Jamie Farr in the same film?
• The Passion of the Christ (2004): If you want a darker experience this holiday, this Mel Gibson-directed epic is not for the faint of heart. Controversial, shocking and by some accounts, anti-Semitic, The Passion details the excruciating final hours and crucifixion of Christ.
• The Ten Commandments (1956): Long before Charlton Heston was preaching about the right to bear arms (remember his “pry it from my cold dead hands” speech?) he starred as Moses in this huge Passover epic. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, this classic follows Moses as he leads slaves from the tyranny of a pharaoh, parting the Red Sea along the way.
• Ben Hur (1959): Heston went biblical again three years later, starring as a wrongly-accused prince who sought revenge upon his accuser during the time of Christ. Ben Hur not only won a stunning 11 Academy Awards, but it apparently resurrected MGM studios from bankruptcy.
• The Prince of Egypt (1998): For a lighter holiday-themed story, look no further than this animated family film. Sure, it’s a little disarming hearing Val Kilmer as the voice of Moses when you are used to the boom of Charlton Heston, but this feature stays resonant by dealing in matters of slavery and notions of faith. Funny, I don’t remember those issues coming up in Space Chimps.