Watching Catholic movies is an interest shared by people of various cultural backgrounds worldwide. Consuming such content makes one reflect on their doings along with helping them in bringing a positive change in their character. Our list of 10 best Catholic movies along with their reviews is really going to a treat for the audience who are fond of watching Catholic movies.
Catholic Movies Reviews
1. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Released in 1928, The Passion of Joan of Arc is centered on the unjust trial faced by Joan of Arc in 1431 at the hand’s Church court officials, French clergymen to be more specific, who had their loyalties tied with the English. The film stars Renée Jeanne Falconetti as Joan and was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. While Carl Theodor Dreyer is, still to date, considered as one of the greatest directors of all times; Falconetti, who is known famously for her acting in this film only, was primarily a stage actress in France.
The movie depicts the chain of events since Joan’s imprisonment to her final trial in the Round Castle, France. The storyline is based on the written transcripts of her trial and shows the inhumane treatment she was subjected to until finally she was burned at stake under false charges of witchery and heresy.
The Passion of Joan of Arc is cited as one of the landmarks of silent moves. It is focused more on actors’ expressions, true to fault costumes and makeovers and less on the glamour and sound. This was done to keep the portrayal of Jane’s character and the trials she faced as real as possible.
Filmmakers, cinema gurus, film critics and audiences, all praised Falconetti’s remarkable performance and her epic portrayal of Joan’s pain throughout her manipulated trial. Falconetti’s acting earned her massive appreciation from everyone.
Based on true events, the film is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of cinema. However, given the gravity of its content, it is not intended for all. Therefore, parents must decide themselves, whether or not they want their children to be exposed to such heartbreaking and painfully true content at ages younger than 13.
2. Ben Hur (1959)
Ben Hur is one of the best Christian movies ever produced. Directed by William Wyler and produced by Sam Zimbalist, Ben –Hur is a classic adaptation of Lew Wallace’s novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ (1880). The plot revolves around a Jewish Prince, Judah –Ben Hur who is treacherously deceived by Messala, his childhood Roman friend, and forced to live as a galley slave. Ben-Hur makes a comeback with his heart set at seeking vengeance from Messala and rescuing his family from imprisonment.
The events roll out and lead to the point where Ben Hur witnesses Christ’s crucifixion while he was searching for him to pay him a visit in hopes of curing his mother and sister of leprosy. While Christ is being crucified at the cross, Ben Hur offers him water just like the way Jesus offered him when he was a galley slave and had passed out because of the intensity of his thirst. A rainstorm follows Christ’s crucifixion and Ben-Hur’s mother and sister miraculously recover from their diseases. Ben-Hur has a change of heart after witnessing Christ’s crucifixion. He gives up the urge to avenge his friend and settles down by embracing the women in his life, his mother, sister and his long-time sweetheart Esther.
Ben-Hur has been equally praised by film fans and critics for all aspects of filmmaking. Interesting story, captivating spiritual theme, power-packed performances, and proper historical costumes and props, all make Ben-Hur truly an epic historical drama movie worth watching. The good news is it can be watched with family too.
3. The Ten Commandments (1956)
The Ten Commandments is the third-best Christian movie on this list. It is based on the biblical accounts of Moses’ life and his encounters with the Pharaoh. Though most of the film’s accounts have been based on the Book of Exodus, parts of it are loosely based on a number of books including The Prince of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson and On Eagle’s Wings by A.E. Southon. Directed and produced by Cecil B DeMille, the film stars Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Ramesses and Anne Baxter as Nefertiti. The Ten Commandments was filmed at various locations in Egypt and consisted of one of the largest film sets ever made.
It was the last film of DeMille’s career and earned him, alongside all those who were part of this colossal project, worldwide recognition, critical acclaim and appreciation for their performances. The film has been preserved by the United States National Film Registry as a culturally, aesthetically and historically significant movie.
The Ten Commandments is one of the most positively-reviewed movies of all time despite its length. It is definitely a must-watch for every Christian movie fan out there.
4. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Winner of 6 Academy Awards, A Man for All Seasons is a bibliographical movie and has been adapted from Robert Bolt’s play of the same name A Man for All Seasons by himself. Its story is based on the life of Sir Thomas More of England, who was serving as a Lord Chancellor in King Henry VIII’s reign. The film has been highly praised for the perfect blend of all filmmaking elements such as good cinematography and solid performances. The film proved to be a box office success with its production cost not exceeding $2 million dollars while it’s cinematic release generating $28.4 million in revenue.
Sir Thomas More had refused to sign a letter asking Pope Clement VII to declare King Henry VIII’s marriage to his wife Catherine ‘invalid’. More so, he had also refused to sign an ‘Oath of Supremacy’ which would make King Henry the VIII, the Supreme Head of Church of England. Angered by the refusal to do so, Henry the VIII takes it upon himself that More’s life is marred with struggles and tragedies.
This role was initially intended for Richard Burton but he turned it down. Later it was offered to Paul Scofield who was director Fred Zinnemann’s first choice. Scofield accepted the role and did justice to it, bringing to life the struggles of More, his belief in the supremacy of church and his feud with the King until his death. A Man for All Seasons is a must-watch for all historical church movie fans out there.
5. The Song of Bernadette (1943)
The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 us an adaptation from the novel of the same name which was published in 1941 by Franz Werfel. Bernadette, the main character of the movie, is a simple girl who reports of seeing visions of The Virgin Mary. Bernadette initially doubted in her claims but later many see her truth and believe her accounts of those visions. The Song of Bernadette is a tale of a sweet girl who embarks on a journey of spiritual awakening while embracing the trials which come as part of it. Towards the end of the movie, Bernadette transforms and is addressed as St. Bernadette. Actress Jenifer Jones won Oscar for her portrayal of a 14-year-old Bernadette in the movie. This timeless classic is highly recommended and can be watched with viewers of all age groups.
6. Going My Way (1944)
Written, directed and produced by Leo McCarey, Going My Way is set in a comic background. Unlike other movies on this list, Going My Way is lighter in nature and elicits laughs at certain points in the movie. The movie features two pastors, who have different approaches to life and appearances too. The old and traditional Father Fitzgibbon is immediately put off by the young and unconventional Father Charles ‘Chuck’ O’Malley. The story revolves around their bond which eventually turns into a beautiful brotherhood after they were compelled to face challenging situations together.
The roles of both, Father Fitzgibbon and Father Charles ‘Chuck’ O’ Maley, have been portrayed beautifully by actors Barry Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby. The film is a timeless classic which contains musical element too. Bing Crosby sang almost 5 songs for the movie-making it even more appealing for young audiences. This is fun to watch movie especially for kids in their teens.
7. The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
The Bells of St. Mary’s is a 1945 sequel to its 1944 predecessor, Going My Way. Just like Going My Way, The Bells of St. Mary’s is also light in nature and involves two main characters, Father Chuck O’ Maley and Sister Mary Benedict. Played by Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, both the characters work towards a common goal, the betterment of a school for children. Just like Going My Way, this film also makes use of liveliness and comic backdrop to highlight how both the characters learn to deal with their recurring disagreements in their approach towards solving people’s problems.
The Bells of St. Mary’s was also a box office success and is rated better than Going My Way. However, movie critics are not much appreciative of it and regard Going My Way as more entertaining.
8. The Passion of the Christ (2004)
The Passion of the Christ was directed and produced by Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey respectively. The movie was released in 2004 and is based on the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life before his crucifixion. Unlike most of the Christian movies which draw their content from the book of Exodus, this film largely draws content from devotional texts such as Friday of Sorrows and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The story relates the accounts of Jesus’ life in more realistic ways. It shows the depth of his passion for humankind and the extreme of his pain which he was subjected to.
The movie does a good job explaining in detail the events of Jesus’ life but it contains excessively violent scenes that might render the true essence of the movie is lost. Despite its mixed reception, the movie to date is the highest-grossing Christian movie of all time.
This movie also needs to be given a warning sign just like The Passion of Joan of Arc, due to its violent scenes.
9. The Miracle Maker (2000)
Another Christian movie centered on Christ’s crucifixion, the Miracle Maker recreates Christ’s experiences in an animated version. Jesus’ character is voiced over by Ralph Fiennes in this movie. Released in two languages, English and the Welsh, the film covers all events of Jesus’ life right up to his resurrection. This version of Jesus’ life story is completely safe for kids to watch. A very family-friendly movie with a decent portrayal of characters, deeply spiritual in its content and captivating animation; The Miracle Maker is highly recommended for audiences of all age groups.
10. The Robe (1953)
Last on the list is The Robe; a cinematic masterpiece heavily under-rated by film critics and reviewers. The Robe was released in 1953 by 20th Century Fox and directed by Henry Koster. Like many other biblical movies, The Robe has also been adapted from its 1942 novel of the same name, written by Lloyd C. Douglas.
The plot revolves around Marcellus played by Richard Burton, the man who is responsible for overlooking the affairs of Jesus’ crucifixion. After Marcellus oversees the affair and returns, he starts having nightmares and feels cursed. Marcellus blames his madness on Jesus’ Robe which he had won in a game of chess. Slowly and gradually, Marcellus turns completely mad. Marcellus starts searching for Demetrius, the defiant Greek slave who pledged his loyalty to Marcellus after Marcellus won him in a bid and freed him later. Upon meeting Demetrius finally who is now the owner of Jesus’s robe, Marcellus demands it be destroyed, it is then Demetrius reveals to Marcellus that his madness is not the robe’s fault but his own guilt stemming fro the fact that he killed an innocent man. This is when Marcellus touches the robe for the second time and becomes Christian his madness vanishes miraculously. The events in the film lead to the final scenes where Marcellus and his beloved Diana are condemned to death. The film closes with Marcellus and Diana climbing the stairs for their execution while envisioning the beautiful life that awaits them in heaven.
The main theme of the movie was how Jesus’s robe turned every man who touched it into a Christian by a miracle. This theme was very beautifully-portrayed and the message of transformation soulfully conveyed by the actors with various Academy Awards and Golden Globe awards to its credit, the film has been termed as ‘awe-inspiring’ and ‘spiritually awakening’ by the critics.
The Robe, as mentioned before, is a highly underrated movie in terms of its ratings and reviews. In 1954, a sequel to the film was released called ‘Demetrius and Gladiators’.
Conclusion: Catholic Movies Reviews
Most of the Catholic movies included in this review are timeless classics and evergreen in terms of their content. Every time you watch any of these movies, you feel the same sense of connection and excitement that you did the first time!