Movies about God can inspire, reinvigorate and renew faith. From a college student’s battle with an atheist professor to a chariot race between Jesus and Judah, these top 10 religious movies have the power to change hearts. After Clerks and Mallrats, Kevin Smith went for full religious satire with this raunchy tale.
1. The Passion of the Christ
Many movies depict the life of Jesus Christ, but none have delved into His last 12 hours as vividly as Mel Gibson did with this utterly brutal film. It’s an experiential exploration of sacrificial substitutionary atonement like no other, and it leaves an indelible mark on anyone who sees it.
It’s one of the most polarizing films of all time, and rightly so. Some people hate it for its graphic depiction of scourging and the crucifixion. Others find it deeply moving and thought-provoking. It’s a film that will touch you on every level, and it is a testament to the power of faith. It also proves that you cannot condemn an entire group of people (in this case Jews) for the actions of a few. You have to look at the whole picture. This is an unforgettable experience.
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Whether you’re into fantasy, action, or romance, this epic film is sure to touch your heart. Featuring some of the most iconic scenes in movie history, like Aragorn leading his army into battle, Faramir shouting to his troops, and Pippen singing “You Bow to No One,” LOTR is a must-see for any movie fan.
Martin Scorsese returned to religion four decades after The Last Temptation with this astonishing update of Shusaku Endo’s novel. It is a powerful depiction of the commitment, danger, and horror of evangelism and missionary work.
Faith was one of Ingmar Bergman’s most consistent themes, as seen in masterpieces like Through a Glass Darkly, Fanny and Alexander, and Winter Light. This contemplative film is a meditation on doubt and the necessity of faith. It patiently says more in its short runtime than most directors can in their entire careers.
3. The Passion of the Christ (1998)
A viscerally controversial movie that reframes Jesus Christ’s life and death in terms of Catholic eucharistic sensibilities. Rather than simply recounting the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, director Carl Dreyer creates one of cinema’s most illuminating portraits of faith and miracles.
While many spacemov have covered the betrayal of Judas, the scourging at the Pillar, and the crucifixion of Christ, few have done so with such depth and emotional force. And while the film is undoubtedly a Christian epic, its depiction of sacrificial substitutionary atonement transcends religion and can touch audiences of all faiths.
After breaking into comedy with Clerks and Mallrats, Kevin Smith switched gears with Dogma to full-on religious satire. This raunchy takedown of organized religion features some of the most inventive celebrity performances ever assembled in a film, while also reminding viewers that spirituality is often healthiest when it’s playful.
4. The Passion of the Christ (2001)
From director Paul Schrader, this drama about a priest’s spiritual crisis takes inspiration from classics like Winter Light and Diary of a Country Priest. Despite being overtly pro-Christian it’s a thought-provoking and sometimes challenging film about faith that will speak to audiences of all religions.
When it comes to religious movies there are few more controversial than The Passion of the Christ. This 2004 blockbuster was one of Mel Gibson’s (pardon the pun) passion projects and a box office success, but also drew criticism for its perceived anti-Semitism.
Featuring a star-studded cast, this retelling of Jesus’ life is lavishly produced and epic in scope. But the film is more than just a spectacle as it conveys the human side of Jesus through James Caviezel’s compelling performance.
5. The Passion of the Christ (1998)
Paul Schrader’s most explicitly religious film is a meditation on faith, suffering, and compassion. Starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, The Passion of the Christ was not a movie for everyone. In fact, filming the crucifixion scene took such a physical toll on its star that he suffered from pneumonia and hyperthermia. The flogging scenes also left him with permanent scars on his back.
Bunuel is known for his critical looks at the aristocracy and upper class but this episode of Nazario may be his most literal stab at Catholicism. In this episodic travelogue, priest Nazario lives his life according to the Gospels but resists the strict rules of his church. The result is a fascinating look at how faith can both help and hinder its followers.