Hollywood Holy Week

I searched through my very limited basic cable package to check for when “The Ten Commandments” movie was playing.  A Palm Sunday staple for decades.  Not there!  Is there no longer an audience for this 56-year-old movie that doesn’t feature the Easter story?

No worries, I pulled out my copy.  The Holy Week Film Festival is about to begin.  Just like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Christmas Story,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” are viewing requirements for some at Christmas time, I rely on Holy movies to set the stage for this last week of Lent.

“Ten Commandments” was the very first movie I saw in a theater. It impacted me deeply and the several frightening scenes imprinted on my 6-year-old brain still grip me.  The parting of the Red Sea is my favorite scene.

So I start the viewing with “Ten Commandments” (1956).  Not about Jesus but about the power of God. Coming in at nearly 4 hours long, it might take all week to finish in the time I allot to my film festival.  Very inspiring and by now I know most of the lines.

By Thursday, I hope to get to “The Gospel of John” (2003.)  My vote for the best Jesus movie ever goes to this film.  All the dialogue is straight from the Bible.  Lazarus rising from the dead is especially powerful.

Good Friday is reserved for “The Passion of the Christ” (2004).  I have to look away through the long whipping scene but can’t fast forward it.  Raw and authentic.

I probably won’t get through all the movies this week but I do plan to see enough frames to pull me back from the day-to-day go-round and fix upon The Greatest Story Ever Told.  Which, BTW, was another movie that first showed me how the story played out, I was 15. After years of hearing about the life of Jesus, these scenes took me to a whole new level of understanding.

Extra readings, a couple of additional church services, trying not to get into the Easter basket task until Saturday all help intentionally set the tone this Holy week for me but the movies invite me in and I linger to let the Story soak in once again.

Do you have any favorite Holy movies?

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4 Responses to “Hollywood Holy Week”


  1. 3 Jenny Hart April 7, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    I love The Passion–especially how the resurrection was portrayed! For me, though, Zeferelli’s Jesus of Nazareth miniseries is still the definitive Jesus story. I love Ernest Borgnine as the centurion!

    As for The Ten Commandments—it’s fun in it’s own right, but I think for me it’s always been on the kitch list. “Moses, Moses, you silly, stubborn, wonderful man!”


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