Last week, I asked the question: Why Do Christian Movies Suck? Many of you responded in both agreement, and in defense, of Christian films. I decided I would add to the discussion and compose a list of the Top 10 Christian Films. Turns out, this list was harder to compile than I originally assumed.
To be fair, this list is based on criteria of what I consider to be a great Christian film. Here they are:
* The film must be Christian in tone, although it does not have to be overtly “Christian.” It can simply imply Christin themes, as long as the message being shared lines up with scripture and/or Jesus Himself.
* The film should be of great production quality, including cinematography, set design, producing, editing., and of course, acting.
* The film should be timeless and enjoyable, both now and for future generations
* The film should be somewhat realistic in the story it is telling, choosing to steer away from Christian stereotypes and cliches.
Without further ado, here are my picks for the Top 10 Christian Films of All-Time (In no particular order…well sorta).
1. The Ten Commandments. Yes, it’s old but man is it good. Heston rocks it. I heard him in an interview once say that he really did feel the presence of God while filming. He went on to say that he was never the same after making this movie. A classic for a reason.
2. The Apostle. I know some people take issue with this movie because of its harsh display of a pastor’s fall from grace. But I love it for its honesty and redemptive story-telling. I watched this movie for the first time, late one night around 2 a.m. when I was having a difficult time with the Lord. I was far from God in that time of my life. I remember crying and then being filled with hope as I watched this film. It is not to be missed.
3. The Mission.Sadly, I don’t think many people have heard of this film. It stars, oddly enough, Robert DeNiro. The premise: 18th Century Jesuit missionary’s arrive in some far removed American Indian tribal community. There the missionary men attempt to protect the tribe from being conquered by Portugal and forced into slavery. The movie as a whole is very sparse in terms of actual dialogue. It is the performances and the action however are rich and powerful. This movie reminds one the need to “not love with word or with tongue but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18.
4. The Passion of the Christ- If you have yet to see this movie please see it soon. If you have already then you can understand its place on this list. There is much to say about this film but my own personal note was that seeing such an accurate depiction of Jesus in His final days truly opened up the Gospels to me in a new way. The images of Him teaching on the Mount, carrying His cross, enduring His death, all brought vivid imagery to my mind’s eye. As a result, without overstating it, I experienced a greater feeling of appreciation and desperation for Jesus.
5. Beyond the Gates of Splendor-This film according to IMDB is “a beautifully crafted documentary about five young missionaries who were martyred by a savage tribe of Indians in the mid 1950s and the heroic effort of reconciliation that has followed.” Elizabeth Elliot, a prolific Christian writer, is the wife and subsequent widow of one of the martyred men. She later returned to the tribe , with her small child, and lived among them continuing to show Christ’s love. It is a powerful family tragedy and redemptive story. A movie that may be a somewhat familiar and is based upon this documentary is End of the Spear (2005), also worth checking out.
6. Ben-Hur- My dad woke me up at 4:00 a.m. one summer morning (that’s right, I said summer morning at 4 a.m.) to watch this film. I think I was 15 or so. It was playing on television, uncut, and he didn’t want me to miss it. I sat there staring at the screen angry that I was being forced to watch some ancient, Technicolor, 4 hour length feature at the crack of dawn. But as it went on, I got into it. It is full of action, drama, and God’s power. This bad boy won 11 Oscars alone! See it and make sure your kids see it too…maybe just let them sleep in a little.
7. Dead Man Walking– This film received considerable buzz and accolades when it was released in 1995. It stars Sean Penn as an inmate on death row and Susan Sarandon as a devoted nun who befriends him. This film is not overtly Christian but it certainly speaks to the power of forgiveness and friendship. And it’s just plain good.
8. Wings of Desire- This is a small foreign film (1987) which follows an angel as he travels the streets of Berlin. He falls in love with a mortal and must make a choice for love. It deals with free will and God’s unending love. Yes, the sappy and over the top City of Angels starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan is a remake of this film. See the original.
9. Chariots of Fire– AHHmazing classic. I saw this film for the first time last year and have to admit, I regret not seeing it sooner. Talk about giving God the glory and it’s based on a true story, which I always love.
10. Lars and the Real Girl– Yes, this one is a surprise to me too. It’s a bit of a stretch as far as calling it a “Christian” film. However, the community and church, which is quasi-Christian, in the film, come around a troubled young man and care for him. Definitely not what I expected. This film is a surprise gem.