The Ten Commandments
via imdb.comCharlton Heston’s iconic performance carries this epic story of Moses and his fight with his estranged brother, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Yul Brenner plays the brother, King Rameses, with equal bravado. Cecil B. DeMille directed this Best Picture winner that defined the sweeping widescreen grandeur of classic Hollywood. Heston also provided the voice for God as the speaking Burning Bush. The Ten Commandments was a blockbuster in its day, but audiences continue to re-watch this beloved film every Easter. It’s a story of faith made all the richer because of its dazzling special effects. The parting of the Red Sea is magnificent every time you see it—especially impressive in the movie-making era before CGI!
It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!
via imdb.comThis Charles M. Schulz Peanuts special debuted on television in 1974, but it remains a watchable classic. In the spirit of the other holiday stories about Christmas trees and the Great Pumpkin, in this story, Linus, Lucy and the gang contend with the Easter Beagle. Nostalgic animation showcases a sweet story about egg hunts and friendship. The whole family can enjoy this timeless gem. Who isn’t in the mood for the lovable antics of Woodstock and Snoopy? These are the best funny family movies that adults actually love too.
The Passion of the Christ
via imdb.comMel Gibson directed this hugely popular story that chronicles the agony of Jesus’ final twelve hours. Gibson’s film moved audiences to tears during its initial run in 2004. It became an unexpected blockbuster taking in the largest box office gross for an ‘R’ rated film—a status it held until last year (when Deadpool took the lead.) James Caviezel gave a stunning performance as Jesus. The film is notable for its unflinching depiction of violence. Gibson’s intent was to bring audiences closer to the reality of Jesus’ suffering and to restore and bolster Christian faith.
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Rise of the Guardians
via imdb.comBased on a book by legendary children’s author, William Joyce, this animated adventure brings together the mythical guardians of Christmas, Easter and other childhood magic. We meet Jack Frost, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Sandman. These well-loved characters are the sentries enlisted to protect a takeover from an evil villain, Pitch Black, voiced by Jude Law. Hugh Jackman voices the Easter Bunny with Alec Baldwin, Isla Fischer and Chris Pine rounding out the famous cast. This delightful story combines loads of wonder with top-notch CGI. Adults and kids alike adore this visit to fantasy realms.
via imdb.comThis sword and sandal epic was part of the Hollywood trend for grand, sweeping, widescreen blockbusters that prevailed in the 1950s. It featured huge set pieces, thousands of extras and elaborate props and costumes. It’s also considered one of the best biblical stories to watch on Easter weekend. The famous chariot race action scene still packs a wallop and Charlton Heston (who won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance) gives a riveting performance as the heroic leading man. This popular classic won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. (Read about the recent remake and other films that didn’t need to be remade.)
Jesus Christ Superstar
via imdb.comThis rockin’ 1970s musical brings bellbottoms and rock ballads to the iconic story of Jesus. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice teamed together to write the rock opera that debuted on Broadway. The acclaimed film version is famous for its desert setting—it was shot amid ruins in Israel. It also combines ancient and modern costumes and props. Sentries dress in camouflage and the cast arrives on a bus at the movies start. Ted Neeley stars as Jesus Christ lending his rich and powerful voice for a stirring portrayal of the icon. Carl Anderson is riveting and Judas and Yvonne Elliman soars as Mary Magdalene. This musical, like the story it portrays, transcends its era as a classic for every Easter season. Here are more movie musicals with excellent soundtracks.
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via imdb.comThis mash-up of live-action and computer-animation is the bouncy charming story of rebellious teenage rabbit who’s next in line to be the Easter Bunny. Problem is, he’d rather be a drummer in a rock band so he takes off to Hollywood. Russell Brand voices the teen rabbit, and James Marsden stars as his live-action buddy who secretly longs to help out with Easter. Hugh Laurie voices the Easter Bunny patriarch and even David Hasselhoff makes an appearance. A family-friendly look at the myths of Easter that your kids will enjoy every year.
via imdb.comThis recent release on the resurrection story tells it from the viewpoint of a Roman soldier played by Joseph Fiennes. The iconic tale gets a detective story take after Pontius Pilate orders Fiennes to investigate rumors of Jesus’ rise. He’s commanded to locate the body. The investigation leads him to visit with the disciples in what is ultimately an uplifting and stirring movie about faith and the mysteries in the days after Jesus’ crucifixion.
via imdb.comThis romantic movie musical starts with Fred Astaire as a Broadway showman buying Easter presents and performing the number “Happy Easter.” The rest of the plot in this Hollywood classic concerns showgirl Judy Garland after she falls in love with Astaire. Amid a collection of glorious numbers, the highlight may be the elaborately staged, “The Girl on the Magazine Cover” where women perform before huge magazine backdrops. The final number fears the two iconic stars in a stroll along an “Easter Parade.” A charming musical that celebrates love and traditions of the season. (Have you seen our list of the Greatest Movie Musicals of all time?)
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The Last Temptation of Christ
via imdb.comMartin Scorsese’s arthouse take on the story of Jesus was controversial when it premiered, but this classic outlasted the criticism. The film is considered a breathtaking portrayal of human foibles and temptations in its depiction of Willem Dafoe as Jesus, a man who confronts his conflicting desire to live life as a normal man. Harvey Keitel stars and Judas with Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene. David Bowie’s performance as Pontius Pilate is a special treat.