• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    The Church Times - Fifty Top Religious Films

    Leading Anglican weekly newspaper The Church Times has published its Fifty Top Religious Films. It's been put together by a panel of four: Nev Pierce, editor of Total Film; documentary filmmaker Shan Stephens, Gareth Higgins, author of one of the most enjoyable books on faith and film "How the Movies Helped Save My Soul"; and James Abbott, who is the jurist at a number of international film festivals.

    It's a really good list, with much in common with the Arts and Faith Top 100. As always there are a few surprises including the omission of Dreyer's Ordet and anything by Kieslowski's or Ozu, but it's great to see a list that is prepared to cover the full history and geography of cinema rather than limit itself to Hollywood films from the last 30 years. That said I'm really pleased to see Field of Dreams come in at number 23. That film has never made it onto the Arts and Faith list, despite (or perhaps because of) my lobbying on its behalf. What is also surprising is the inclusion of a number of church made films such as The Prodigal (1983).

    As with any good list, there are also a couple of films I'd not really been aware of previously. John Huston's Wise Blood and Nicholas Hytner's The Crucible are both new to me, and there are a number of others which I'm adding to my "to see" list such as Priest, A Man for All Seasons and a number of others. By my reckoning I've seen 36 of these 50 fifty, so still some way to go!

    As expected, there are a number of Bible Films on the list:
    2. The Gospel According to St Matthew
    4. The Last Temptation of Christ
    9. The Passion of the Christ
    15. Jesus of Montreal
    27. The Greatest Story Ever Told
    28. The Prince of Egypt
    33. The Ten Commandments
    34. Jesus Christ, Superstar
    40. King of Kings
    43. Samson and Delilah
    I suppose Ben Hur and The Robe could also be included on the above list. Two I wouldn't have expected to make an appearance are The Prince of Egypt and King of Kings. The former doesn't really offer a great deal in my opinion, and if it was included to give the list a child friendly appeal then I think The Miracle Maker would have been a better option. In contrast, as much as I personally have a soft spot for King of Kings, I don't agree with the article's comment that it "has become perhaps the most acclaimed movie about Christ".

    All in all though, I can highly recommended this particular list, and it's nicely laid out in the PDF version of the file. Worth printing out for future reference at any rate. (Thanks to Gareth Higgins for posting this at his blog).

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    • At 7:41 pm, April 24, 2007, Blogger Unknown said…

      I've seen 41 out of the 50. Some personal thoughts . . .

      1. Though I never and do not really like "The Passion of the Christ," I would expect it to be in the Top 3. Many people actually saw it and many were actually moved by it (whether positively or
      negatively). It is THE Jesus film of this generation.

      2. Sad that "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is #48, while "King of Kings" is #40. "King of Kings" is actually #1 . . . in my "Worst Jesus Films Ever" list. :)

      3. Where is "Becket" on the list????????????????

      4. For me, "The Exorcist" is just a very scary horror movie. Anyone can pontificate on it's "religious" significance, but for me it's just an overrated horror flick with a priest as its main character. "La Strada" (since it had a procession scene) would have been a better choice.

      5. "Miracle in Milan," "The Miracle of Marcelino," "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima," "The Song of Bernadette" (the last 3 having explicitly Catholic settings) are, as far as I can remember, have always been considered religious greats. I wonder if their Catholic themes made these films "too" religious...

      6. Too bad, "Jesus of Nazareth" and "A.D." were made for TV and are not considered "films" . . . .

    • At 9:30 am, May 01, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…

      41 is pretty good going! A few comments on your comments

      1 - I was surprised that the comments on the film were almost apologetic for having ranked it so highly.

      2 - Yeah I was surprised that it ranked so low, particularly given that King of Kings ranked so much higher. I wouldn't say it was the worst though, far from it. If you want to see a really bad Jesus film try The Revolutionary!

      3-5 - Never seen any of these actually, although Becket is one I'm keen to see certainly.

      6 - I think it kinda makes sense though, otherwise where do you draw the line with TV?


    • At 3:20 am, November 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      The Passion of Joan of Arc is one everyone should see. Available online here free:
      MaidofHeaven.com Movies Online

    • At 10:02 am, November 12, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…



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