"THERE CAN BE MIRACLES WHEN YOU BELIEVE." If you're a fan of religious films, there's a big chance that you know these lyrics come from the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt. From Moses and Ramses to Mary and Jesus Christ, 93% of people can't name these religious movies from an image. Can you?
When it comes to the genre of religious films, the majority of them depict stories from the Bible. With over 2.2 million followers of Christianity and 13.9 million followers of Judaism, it's clear to see that the Bible's reach is far, and this is mirrored in the religious film genre.
Many of these films follow Old Testament people such as Moses and Noah. The New Testament films follow the life of Jesus Christ. Although they are following the same people, they differ in delivery. Steve Carell stars in the 2007 comedy Evan Almighty about Noah while Russell Crowe stars in the epic drama Noah that was released in 2014. Ted Neeley starred in the 1973 musical Jesus Christ Superstar while Jim Caviezel starred in the drama The Passion of the Christ. When it comes to all of these religious films, could you name them from an image?
Could you recognize an animated Moses splitting the Red Sea with his staff? Can you name the 2003 film where Morgan Freeman gives Jim Carrey the opportunity to "play God?"
Will you be praying your way to a perfect score? Let's find out!
One Night with the King is based on the Biblical story of Esther and the novel Hadassah: One Night with the King (co-authored by preacher Tommy Tenney). Hadassah was Esther's name before she changed it to avoid detection as a Jew.
This silent French film (titled La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, in French) was directed by Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer. Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance as Joan of Arc has been highly praised by film critics throughout the years. She was primarily a stage actress, with The Passion of Joan of Arc being her only film role.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are the primary target audience for God’s Army. Its director, Richard Dutcher, grew up in that faith but announced in 2007 that he would no longer be a practicing member. In his parting letter, however, he left the possibility of his return open.
By the time The Ten Commandments was released in October 1956, it had earned the distinction of being the most expensive film ever made (up to that time). The film is 3 hours and 40 minutes long and veers somewhat from Biblical accounts but has retained much of its popularity over the years.
Before he portrayed the Norse god Heimdall in the Marvel film Thor (2011), Idris Elba starred as Frank in this modern retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The film also features cameo appearances by several well-known gospel singers, including Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams.
The film chronicles the life of Saint Thérèse, a French girl who chose to become a nun at age 15. Sadly, she died at age 24 after suffering from tuberculosis. The role of Thérèse is played by Vancouver native Lindsay Younce.
The Passion of the Christ was directed by Mel Gibson and starred Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ. The movie was steeped in controversy even before its release but went on to become the highest-grossing non-English film ever made.
Patrick Doughtie is the co-director of this film about a soccer-loving 8-year-old named Tyler who is dying of cancer. Tyler enjoys writing letters to God and this, plus his faith, helps him through his illness. The film is based loosely on the Doughtie’s son (named Tyler) who died from cancer five years before the movie’s release.
Princess of Rome is set in the Middle East in the 9th century. This Iranian computer-animated film recounts an important journey in the life of Mellika (later named Nargis Khatoon) who was the grand-daughter of Caesar.
Evangelist Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner (more popularly known simply as Marjoe) is the subject of this documentary about the revival movement. Marjoe first came to public attention when he was ordained as a preacher at the age of four. His name is actually a combination of “Mary” and “Joseph.”
Chariots of Fire won four Oscars from seven nominations and three BAFTAs from 10 nominations. In both cases, the film won in the Best Picture/Film and Best Costume Design categories.
Samson and Delilah is a hugely successful film based on the Book of Judges in the Bible. It was directed by acclaimed director Cecil B. DeMille and stars Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature. Nearly 30 years later, when he retired from a prolific acting career, Mature would describe the film as not “bad” but not one of his favorites.
War Room focuses on the power of prayer. In it, the need for prayer is explained by elderly Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) as she counsels Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer) on how to save her marriage. Miss Clara tells her, “In order to stand up and fight the enemy, you need to get on your knees and pray.”
The movie is based on a best-selling novel of the same name written by Frank Werfel in 1941. Werfel, a Jewish refugee, heard the story of Saint Bernadette Soubirous while in Lourdes, France making his escape from Nazi-occupied Europe.
While this Australian film received generally mixed reviews, most of the positive comments were in regard to the quality of the film, given that it was made on an extremely low budget. Negative reviews focused mainly on the film’s similarity to others which the critics thought were better made.
This coming-of-age film has strong Christian themes as it explores forgiveness and the passing on of the teachings of the Bible. The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry stars Gavin McLeod, who is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Merrill Stubing in 250 episodes of The Love Boat.
This epic film traces the life of Jesus from birth to death and unto His resurrection. The large cast contained many well-known actors - a fact used in advertising the film. These cameo appearances (such as John Wayne’s one-line appearance as a centurion who states “Truly this man was the Son of God”) did not go over well with all critics.
A Man for All Seasons was a huge success both with critics and at the box office. It was nominated for various Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA awards, winning in almost every category it went up in. Both the director (Fred Zimmerman) and lead actor (Paul Scofield) took home numerous awards for their efforts.
This short CGI film is specifically geared to young audiences through its use of simple language, humor and an easy-to-follow storyline. It shows the early days of Abraham (the first prophet) and his efforts to convince those around him that there is only one true God.
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc is directed by Luc Besson and stars Milla Jovovich. The pair worked together previously as director and lead actress on the film The Fifth Element (1997). Besson and Jovovich were married in 1997 and got divorced in 1999.
Son of God is a 2-hour-18-minute long feature film which is based on a popular 10-hour miniseries (The Bible) shown on the History Channel a year earlier. Roma Downey, who had starred in the hit TV series Touched by An Angel (1994 – 2003) plays the role of Mary, mother of Jesus, in this film.
Commonly called Avalokiteshvara, this film tells the story behind one of China’s historic holy sites. It was shown at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2013 where it won the honor of being named one of the World Greats (along with three other films).
In the Preacher’s Wife, the title role is played by Whitney Houston who also renders the film’s soundtrack album. That album achieved the distinction of being the best-selling gospel album of all time and was certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The Robe stars Richard Burton, Victor Mature and Jean Simmons. Its poster, however, shows the face of another famous actress, Jean Peters, and not Simmons. That is because Simmons was a late addition to the cast, as she was brought in to replace Peters, who had become pregnant.
This black-and-white Japanese film was directed by Kon Ichikawa. The film was successful, gaining an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1985, Ichikawa remade the film in color and it, too, enjoyed both critical and box office success.
This Italian film is also known by the title “Il Vangelo secondo Matteo.” Filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini revealed that he chose the Gospel of St. Matthew because “John was too mystical, Mark too vulgar, and Luke too sentimental.” The film was very well reviewed, with noted film critic Roger Ebert giving it a perfect four-out-of-four-star rating.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a musical drama film based on a rock opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The role of Jesus is played by Ted Neeley – a rock and roll drummer and singer. Neely had previously acted in several stage productions, including the title role in a Los Angeles staging of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Heaven Is for Real is based on a book by Pastor Todd Burpo about his young son’s near-death experience while undergoing an appendectomy. The film was heavily criticized by some religious persons and groups but was a box office success, nonetheless.
Charlton Heston portrays the fictional character of Judah Ben-Hur in this nearly 4-hour-long epic. The movie is based on a novel titled Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace which had previously been adapted into an 1889 Broadway play and a silent 1925 film. There has also been a 2016 remake, starring Jack Huston and an animated direct-to-video film (2003) with Heston providing Judah Ben-Hur’s voice.
This made-for-TV historical drama was well received by viewers. That success may have prompted much of the cast and crew to return for the three-and-a-half-hour sequel, The Story of David, which was aired in two parts in April of 1976.
This highly successful film was directed by Tom Shadyac and stars Jim Carrey as the title character, Bruce Nolan. Shadyac and Carrey worked together previously on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) and Liar Liar (1997). While Shadyac returned to direct the sequel, Evan Almighty, in 2007, Carrey was not in that film.
David Wall wears multiple hats in the production of this dramatic film. He is the show’s lead star, director, writer and co-producer.
This three-hour epic has received much praise for the way in which it engagingly presents the Gospel of John in an almost verbatim fashion. One inconsistency cited by some reviewers, however, is the depiction of Mary Magdalene being present at the Last Supper.
Kirk Cameron stars in this religious science fiction film about the end times. He is also the star of the film's two sequels which were released directly to DVD: Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (2002); and Left Behind: World at War (2005). The series was rebooted as the 2014 film Left Behind, with Nicholas Cage in the lead role.
This Biblical drama focuses on occurrences just after the crucifixion of Jesus (who is called by His Hebrew name, Yeshua, in the film). Risen introduces a fictional character, Clavius played by (Joseph Fiennes), as a Roman tribune assigned to solve the mystery of what has happened to the body of Jesus.
English child actor Adam Greaves-Neal takes the title role in this film. The Young Messiah is about Jesus’ life between the time of His birth and His family’s return to Nazareth seven years later.
The song “When You Believe,” which was written and composed by Stephen Schwartz, won the Oscar for Best Original Song. It was performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey on the movie’s official soundtrack. The film spawned a sequel, Joseph: King of Dreams (2000), which was released direct-to-video.
This silent epic is the first film in what has been called director Cecil B. DeMille's Biblical Trilogy. The other two films are The King of Kings (1927 – another silent film); and The Sign of the Cross (1932).
This dramatic black-and-white film has been hailed as an excellent resource for introducing study of the life of Martin Luther and his break from the Catholic Church. It was also praised for its presentation of a large volume of intellectual dialogue in an easy-to-follow and gripping manner.
This Oscar-nominated film chronicles the birth of Islam in the 7th century. According to its director, Moustapha Akkad, the film was his attempt to “bridge” understanding between the West and Islam.
Russell Crowe leads the cast in this epic biblical drama. The story is based on the Book of Genesis but, as many reviewers point out, the film includes several scenarios which are not in the biblical story of Noah.
Jesus Film Project organization has translated this movie into all major languages of the world, as well as into hundreds of indigenous languages. Millions of free copies of the film have also been mailed to households in the U.S.
The Second Chance is directed by singer/songwriter Steve Taylor, who often performs in the Christian alternative rock genre. The film stars three-time Grammy Award winner Michael W. Smith, whose music spans the genres of contemporary Christian music and Christian rock.
The title role in this religious epic is played by acclaimed actor Anthony Quinn. The film’s crucifixion scene, where Barabbas witnesses the death of Jesus, was filmed during an actual solar eclipse which occurred on Feb. 15, 1961. In Italy, where the movie was being filmed, this was seen as a total eclipse.
With a budget of $175 million, Evan Almighty took the title of most expensive comedy film ever made, at the time of its release. It managed to almost break even at the box office, with intakes of $173 million The first movie, Bruce Almighty, was made on an $81 million budget and made over $484 million.
The Bible: In the Beginning… covers the first 22 chapters of the Book of Genesis, beginning with the creation story. As such, music, narration (by the film’s director – John Huston) and images depicting the creation story fill the first five-and-a-half minutes of the movie. The first human being is not shown on screen until almost ten minutes into the film.
This film bears a very similar title to a silent film released in 1927 by director Cecil B. DeMille (The King of Kings). While DeMille’s film recounts Jesus’ adult life, this later film, from director Nicholas Ray, begins with Jesus’ infancy.
This made-for-television film stars Matthew Modine in the title role. The plot surrounds Jacob tricking his father in order to receive his brother's birthright. He, in turn, is tricked by Laban into marrying the wrong one of Laban’s daughters and having to spend 14 years working for their father.
Sunday School Musical (as the name implies) is made very much in the same pattern as Disney Channel’s popular High School Musical trilogy. Just as with those movies, this film’s poster shows a group of happy, smiling teenagers jumping into the air.
The Nativity Story stars Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac in the roles of Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents. In a happy coincidence, Castle-Hughes became pregnant with her first child during filming of The Nativity Story.