Holy Week movie picks

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By John Cugel ’20

This has probably been the most unique season of Lent that I have experienced. Many things have happened to our world and in our lives over the past few weeks, and we have all had to adapt to change. Holy Week is a great time to reflect and pray on those things we have struggled with, but is also a time to thank God for all the blessings he has given us.

One way of reflection is by watching a movie, and then thinking about the deeper meaning after the viewing. Here are some Holy Week movie suggestions for you and your families to watch. After watching, try and see how it relates to Christ or to the season of Lent. Shoutout to Mr. Healey for some of these suggestions!

1. The Mission (1986)

Jesuit priest Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) enters the Guarani lands in South America with the purpose of converting the natives to Christianity. He soon builds a mission, where he is joined by Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro), a reformed slave trader seeking redemption. When a treaty transfers the land from Spain to Portugal, the Portuguese government wants to capture the natives for slave labor. Mendoza and Gabriel resolve to defend the mission, but disagree on how to accomplish the task.

Where to watch: For rent or purchase at all the normal places, not free with any subscription right now. 

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

During the World War II bombings of London, four English siblings are sent to a country house where they will be safe. One day Lucy (Georgie Henley) finds a wardrobe that transports her to a magical world called Narnia. After coming back, she soon returns to Narnia with her brothers, Peter (William Moseley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and her sister, Susan (Anna Popplewell). There they join the magical lion, Aslan (Liam Neeson), in the fight against the evil White Witch, Jadis (Tilda Swinton). This movie is all about the sacrifice of Aslan for Edward (Jesus for a Son of Adam), and this is definitely one for the whole family.

Where to watch: Free on Disney+, for rent or purchase at all the normal places.

3. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty school teacher, and wins her over with his charm and humor. Eventually they marry and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). Their happiness is abruptly halted, however, when Guido and Giosue are separated from Dora and taken to a concentration camp. Determined to shelter his son from the horrors of his surroundings, Guido convinces Giosue that their time in the camp is merely a game.

Where to watch: Free on Cinemax, for rent or purchase at all the normal places.

4. Ben Hur (1959)

Epic drama about an aristocratic Jew living in Judaea who incurs the wrath of a childhood friend, now a Roman tribune. Although forced into slavery on a galley and compelled to witness the cruel persecution of his family, he survives, harbouring dreams of vengeance. A battle at sea and a chariot race are among the memorable sequences. The film used 300 sets at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios and won a record 11 Oscars.

Where to watch: For rent or purchase at all the normal places, not free with any subscription right now. 

5. The Passion of the Christ (2004)

In this version of Christ’s crucifixion, based on the New Testament, Judas expedites the downfall of Jesus (Jim Caviezel) by handing him over to the Roman Empire’s handpicked officials. To the horror of his mother, Mary (Maia Morgenstern), Magdalen (Monica Bellucci), whom he saved from damnation, and his disciples, Jesus is condemned to death. He is tortured as he drags a crucifix to nearby Calvary, where he is nailed to the cross. He dies, but not before a last act of grace. While this movie is excellent, it is violently realistic and so it might not be suitable for all members of the family.

Where to watch: Free on Amazon Prime, for rent or purchase at all the normal places.