The best movies to celebrate Easter

Movies like 'The Passion of the Christ,' 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'King of Kings' are the perfect way to enjoy the Easter holidays.

Easter has just begun. For many, this is a time to spend with family or even take advantage of Catholic Holy Week to take a trip. However, another option popular with religious individuals who use this time for spiritual reflection, meditation and church visits includes sharing their faith with loved ones.

Movies are used more and more often to educate children and help them better understand their parents’ faith. Children are not the only ones who can benefit from them. Others can also immerse themselves in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ or deepen their understanding of biblical passages, thereby strengthening their religious beliefs through movies such as the ones listed below:

'The Passion of the Christ' (2004)

One of the movies that viewers most enjoy was directed by director Mel Gibson (also known for directing "Braveheart" and for starring in "Mad Max,"). "The Passion of the Christ" was released in 2004 and soon became a worldwide success. The movie narrates part of the Christian New Testament.

The movie shows, in a very raw and explicit way, passages from the Bible such as the betrayal of Jesus Christ, Jesus' journey carrying the cross on his back, his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.

Starring Jim Caviezel (who gained popularity again this year after starring in "Sound of Freedom"), "The Passion of the Christ" can be streamed on Kanopy, Vix, or Plex Player for free. In addition, the movie can be rented on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu or Spectrum for $3.99.

'King of Kings' (1961)

One of the all-time favorites is "King of Kings." It was one of the first religious-themed movies released in the 1960s. Directed by Nicholas Ray, it tells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ as well as the most important moments of his life, including his crucifixion and resurrection.

The movie recounts key Bible passages such as the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the visit of the wise men guided by a star to the manger, King Herod's order to murder all newborns and the journey of Mary and Joseph as they flee to protect baby Jesus.

The movie starring Jeffrey Hunter received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score. It can be watched for free on Tubi. It can also be rented on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu or Microsoft for $3.99.

'Jesus Christ Superstar' (1973)

One of the most acclaimed musical films of all time, "Jesus Christ Superstar" focuses especially on the last days of Jesus' life. The 1973 movie stars Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson as Jesus of Nazareth and Judas Iscariot, respectively. It focuses on the conflict between the two during the week before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The movie, based on the well-known Broadway musical, begins a few days before Jesus Christ enters Jerusalem and ends with his resurrection. Directed by Norma Jewison, the movie reflects on how modern media, including television and the press, might portray Christ if he appeared in 1973 rather than centuries before.

Peacock Premium subscribers can watch the movie with "Jesus Christ Superstar" with their subscription. In addition, it is also available to rent for $3.99 on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Spectrum and Amazon.

'Fatima' (2020)

"Fatima" is a movie that does not focus on the life of Jesus Christ but on the miracle that the Virgin Mary performed in Fátima, a Portuguese town at the beginning of the 20th century. The religious movie released by Italian director Marco Pontecorvo in 2020 tells the story of the 10-year-old shepherdess, Lúcia dos Santos, and her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

In 1917, the protagonists claimed the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared before them in Fátima, Portugal. However, the miracle, which aroused the curiosity of many believers, infuriated several officials of the Catholic Church and the secular government who tried, unsuccessfully, to force the young people to recant the story that would later be known as the Miracle of the Sun.

"Fátima," starring Joaquin de Almeida, Goran Visnjic, Harvey Keitel, Sônia Braga, Stephanie Gil and Lúcia Moniz, can be rented online. It is available for $3.99 on Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Microsoft and Spectrum.

'Easter Parade' (1948)

Another religious musical is "Easter Parade." Starring actors like Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, the movie directed by Charles Walters and released in 1948 is perhaps the least religious proposal for this time since, despite being set at Easter, it does not focus so much on the spiritual component and it just happens to be set during Easter.

The movie focuses on the story of a dancer (played by Fred Astaire) who decides to replace his usual partner with the first dancer he encounters. Luckily, he crosses paths with a great dancer (Judy Garland) who he becomes attracted to.

"Easter Parade," available to rent for $3.99 on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube and Vudu, marked Fred Astaire's return to the big screen after stepping back for two years. He was forced to take time off after breaking his ankle.

'The Greatest Story Ever Told' (1965)

Another movie with a completely religious theme is "The Greatest Story Ever Told." This musical, directed by George Stevens, was released in 1965 and was a hit. It tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ.

With actors like Charlton Heston, Max von Sydow and Telly Savalas, the movie focuses on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, especially his last few days. Film Affinity reports that the movie tells the story of the life of Jesus in Judea, the region occupied at that time by Rome. It also tells the story of his birth in Bethlehem, his childhood in Nazareth, his three years of public life, the Last Supper, the betrayal of his disciple Judas, his trial, crucifixion and resurrection.

"The Greatest Story Ever Told" can be streamed on any of the following platforms: Amazon Prime Video, MGM+, Fubo, Pluto TV, Freevee or Xumo Play. It can also be rented for $3.99 on Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu or Spectrum.

'Mary Magdalene' (2018)

Not all movies focus on the life of Jesus Christ. There is a female figure who was present during the last days of Jesus' life: Mary Magdalene. Her story is told in the movie directed by Garth Davies in 2018.

Titled "Mary Magdalene," the British movie focuses on the religious woman who is played by actress Rooney Mara. She is young and looking to rebuild her life. During her search, she encounters a new social movement led by Jesus of Nazareth (played by Joaquin Phoenix). Soon, she realizes that this is the direction she wants to take in her life and she ends up accompanying Jesus to Jerusalem. She was present during his crucifixion and resurrection.

"Mary Magdalene" is available on AMC+, Kanopy, Tubi and IFC Films (within Apple TV). If you don't have a subscription to any of these platforms, you can also rent the movie for $3.99 on Apple TV.

'Jesus of Nazareth' (2019)

Another movie focused on the life of Christ is "Jesus of Nazareth." It premiered in 2019 and is available only on Canela TV. The Cuban-Spanish movie directed by Rafael Lara stars actors Julián Gil and Gaby Espino and also includes Fernando Allende, Sergio Marone, Débora Nascimento, Marlene Favela, Mayrín Villanueva and Mario Cimarro.

The movie is available in both the United States and Latin America. The Los Angeles Times assures that it offers "an inspiring vision of the life of Christ" in addition to being the largest project in Julián Gil's career.

Bonus series: 'The Chosen' (2017)

Not only are there movies dedicated to depicting the life of Jesus Christ, but television is also being used to bring the story to life.

An example of this is "The Chosen." Produced by Angel Studios (the production company behind "Sound of Freedom"), the series, which currently has four seasons, tells the story of the life of Jesus through the eyes of those who knew him.

"The Chosen" has become one of the most-watched series in the world. The first three seasons can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video, Fubo, Peacock, CW and Angel. The first season is available on Netflix, Kanopy, Vudu, Pure Flix and Plex Player. The fourth season, released in January 2024, is currently being broadcast and is expected to be available on various American streaming platforms soon.