'Noah' & More of the Best Biblical Films for Easter: A Holiday Power Ranking
Many Americans today are celebrating Easter, and no other holiday. Some celebrate Easter mainly for the processed sugar, while others focus more on the Biblical story of Christ rising again from his tomb. Traditions, meanwhile, range from decorating peeps to hiding eggs (or cryogenically freezing them) or attending church in a button-down and pastel sweater. And, lest we forget, there is the great American tradition of buckling down to watch a movie with your loved ones.
So, what films are most appropriate for Easter? While Rise of the Guardians does feature a rough-and-tumble Easter bunny (outfitted with boomerangs and an Australian accent), films that focus on Biblical stories may be more informative and in tune with the emotional timbre of the day. You can appreciate these films across generations (depending on the rating), and pair each one with an Easter snack. Collect your peeps, chocolate eggs, Easter ham, and brightly colored sherbet, and settle down with this stack of films! (Note: while not all of these films deal directly with the story of Easter, you can consider them the Biblical precursors to and spinoffs off that infamous tale. [To summarize, Christ died for our sins and rose again three days later! Huzzah!])
1. Noah, or The Story That Started It All
Many, many years before Christ, there was Noah, a man with a plan. And, in this Darren Aronofsky telling of his story, we witness a grizzled Anthony Hopkins, a stone-washed Emma Watson, and a grimy-yet-still-attractive Russel Crowe. Spoiler alert: before the dawn of time, they still had knitwear that looked like Anthropologie wraps dragged through several fields of cow dung. This film looks like a cross between The Croods, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones: North of the Wall. British accents also predate written history, apparently. Watch it if you're looking for a fast-paced action thriller, and pair with a rare shank of lamb.
2. The Prince of Egypt, Because Music
We're still in the Old Testament, but the story of Moses is worth a watch or five. Even if you're Jewish and watched this last week while celebrating Seder, the theme of redemption and growth in The Prince of Egypt wins it a place at the Easter table. And oh, sweet melodies. From "When You Believe" to the absurdly catchy "Playing With the Big Boys," there are a number of tunes that will have you dancing in your Easter finery. Pair with watered wine, more lamb, and pretzel sticks and gummy worms (to symbolize the staff-to-snake conversion).
3. The Robe, aka The Original Horcrux
Released in 1953, The Robe follows the life of a Roman military tribune, Macellus Gallio (Richard Burton), who wins Jesus' robe in a dice game. He is strongly affected by Jesus' death, and, like Ginny in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, has to deal with an object endowed with special communicative properties. His path to Christianity is entangled with the lives of a childhood sweetheart, a saucy slave, and, of course, the holy spirit. Pair with garum, a traditional Roman dish made of fish waste and salt water. Transition to lamb.
4. An Easter Carol, Your Daily Dose of Veggies
Yep, they did it. This Veggie Tales episode rewrites Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as an anti-materialist Easter story, in which Junior Asparagus must convince the warped Mr. Nezzer to save the local church instead of tearing it down to expand his Easter business. Here's a singing angel, who, for some reason, isn't actually a veggie? Watch it with the kids, and pair with a large glass of V8 juice.
5. Ben-Hur, Done That
That chariot chase. Those bronzed Charlton Heston muscles. That story of riches-to-rags-to-riches again. This precursor to Gladiator tracks the life of a Jewish merchant-turned-slave who must compete for his freedom. Jesus makes a cameo appearance as a local carpenter, before he turns to his ultimate cross to bear. If you don't have 224 minutes for the entire film, watch the nine minute chariot race here. Pair with dates and horse meat.
While this is, of course, not an exhaustive list, many families can gather round the Easter table or television and enjoy these films! And, if you tire of classic (or, in the case of Noah, newly released) cinema, you can always have a peep war in your microwave. Grab your sugary snacks and toothpicks, and may the odds be ever in your flavor!