10 More Faith-Based Movies
Beginning before the story of the Nativity and extending through Jesus’ life, Crucifixion, and eventual Resurrection, Jesus Of Nazareth is a must-see for anybody interested in learning more about the story of Christ.
In this 1977 mini-series, Robert Powell gives a magnificent performance as the Son Of God, and he is joined by many other famous actors, including Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus the Pharisee, Anne Bancroft as Mary Magdalene, and Ian McShane as Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus Of Nazareth is a mostly faithful depiction of the life of Christ although the image of Jesus in this Biblical adaptation as a blue-eyed white man is hardly correct, considering His Palestinian-Jewish heritage. This discrepancy aside, there is much to enjoy and learn in Franco Zeffirreli’s sweeping chronicle of Jesus’ life.
For those who have seen this epic drama and are looking for alternate picks, we’ve combed through the archives and saved you the hassle with our top choices for what to watch next. As usual, let us know your thoughts about our picks in the comments below!
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
Not only is this epic adaptation of the Gospels one of the more popular tellings of ‘the greatest story ever told,’ it’s also one of the longest! At over 4 hours in length, this all-star, large-scale dramatization of Jesus’s life is sometimes hard to sit through because of the long-running time. But if you can stick with it, you will be rewarded with a mostly reverential look at the story of Christ that will educate and move you.
The movie covers the whole gamut of Jesus’s life, from His birth to His death and Resurrection, so everything we need to know about His story is here. The great Max von Sydow takes the lead role and there is room for many other famous actors in this Biblical saga, including John Wayne, who, as the Centurion present at Christ’s cross, drawls the now-famous line: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”
The Passion Of The Christ (2004)
Mel Gibson’s movie is not for the faint of heart. It unflinchingly depicts Christ’s torture and crucifixion and is far more authentic than those other Biblical movies that have shied away from the reality of the beatings and violence that He endured.
For Christians, The Passion of The Christ is a heart-breaking watch as the suffering of Jesus is powerfully shown. Theology tells us that Jesus died for our sins and this fully captures what He went through as He sacrificed His life for the sake of mankind.
While there is graphic brutality depicted on screen, there are also heart-wrenching scenes of another kind, such as when Mary, Jesus’s mother, runs to comfort her son when He falls while carrying His cross. Their relationship is another reason to give this difficult but authentic movie a go if you want a more faithful depiction of Christ’s final days on Earth.
King Of Kings (1961)
Filmed on a grand scale, this is another movie like Jesus Of Nazareth that covers all the major events of Christ’s life, from His birth in Bethlehem to His subsequent Resurrection, and everything in between.
Much of what you have been taught about Jesus is here, including the miracles He performed, the parables He told, and His resilience against the Roman leadership that wanted to kill Him.
Tab Hunter gives an open and earnest performance as Jesus, and he is joined in the cast by a gallery of other stars in familiar roles. These include Rip Torn as Judas, Robert Ryan as John The Baptist, and Harry Guardino as Barabbas.
The lavish sets, costumes, and battle scenes sometimes take the focus away from the character of Jesus but if you can forgive director Nicholas Ray for overloading on the spectacle, you will still get an appreciation of the Bible stories that many people know and love.
Unlike most of the other movies on this list, Risen doesn’t convey the complete life story of Christ. As such, this isn’t the movie to see if you want to know everything there is to know about the Biblical interpretation of the Messiah.
Instead, the movie focuses on Clavius, a Roman soldier (and non-believer), who is tasked with finding out what happened to Jesus’s body in the days following the Crucifixion after it disappeared from the tomb.
Risen isn’t a Biblical epic or a completely accurate history lesson. But it does give a unique insight into the Crucifixion and Resurrection through the eyes of a man who didn’t personally know Jesus but who came face-to-face with the truth of Jesus’ identity when He reappeared alive after His body was allegedly stolen.
The Miracle Maker (2000)
The Miracle Maker uses stop-motion animation to tell the story of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of a young girl who experiences a miracle of her own when she encounters Him.
Like Jesus Of Nazareth, this explores the Biblical events that many of us are familiar with but unlike that epic miniseries (and certain other movies on this list), The Miracle Maker manages to explore Christ’s life in a bum-friendly 90 minutes.
Ralph Fiennes provides the voice of Jesus, and several other big-name actors lend their voices to this charmingly animated tale. These include Ian Holm as Pontius Pilate, Miranda Richardson as Mary Magdalene, and William Hurt as Jairus. Even without the accomplished cast, this is well worth watching for the clever ways in which it retells the story of Jesus in an accessible and convincing way.
The Nativity Story (2006)
The Nativity Story does not give viewers a whistle-stop tour of Jesus’s life or the events leading up to his Crucifixion and Resurrection. As the movie’s title suggests, this one focuses on His earthly parents Mary and Joseph, and the Biblical accounts of the days leading up to His birth.
But like Jesus Of Nazareth, this movie does provide insight into the period in which Jesus began his life (somewhere between 7 to 4 BC) and it does bring to life characters that many of us have only read about in the Bible.
The movie is definitely worth seeking out at Christmas time, especially if you’re a Christian who is tired of Jesus being buried beneath the tinsel and glitter and the greediness of the festive season. It offers a sensitive retelling of the birth of Christ with all of the moments we read about in the Bible, including Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, and the shepherd’s encounter with the Angel who brought “good news of great joy” about the upcoming birth of the new King.
Not every movie about Jesus actually tells us His story through the eyes of those who knew Him best. Risen is one such movie and so too is Barabbas, a movie about the titular criminal who was spared from Crucifixion when the masses chose him over Jesus to be released from the Cross.
Richard Fleischer’s movie can’t be considered historically accurate as not much is known about Barabbas, the robber who narrowly escaped death on the day Jesus was crucified. But it utilizes themes that are common with the Christian faith, such as repentance and redemption, which Barabbas experiences when he realizes that it was through Christ’s death that he was allowed to live.
The movie is a tad overlong but it’s still worth a watch for those who have seen Jesus of Nazareth and who want to experience what life might have been like for one of that miniseries’ lesser-known characters.
Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018)
In the Bible, Paul (formerly known as Saul), was a member of the Pharisees who persecuted the followers of Jesus. That was until he experienced a revelation of the resurrected Jesus on the Road to Damascus and turned his life around to become somebody who actively spread the Good News about Jesus and His relevance to mankind.
This movie tells the story of Paul and his meeting with Gospel writer Luke who used Paul’s testimony to write his books about Jesus’s teachings and the faith journey of Paul and the other apostles.
Jim Caviezel, who starred as the suffering Jesus in The Passion Of The Christ, stars as Luke in this compelling tale of Paul’s imprisonment and the days leading up to the end of his life. And James Faulkner stars as Paul, the man who is held up by Christians as proof that even the most hateful person can be saved by God.
This might not be a completely accurate telling of real events but like Jesus of Nazareth, it does offer some insight into the lives of people we read about in the Bible.
Miracles From Heaven (2016)
Like Jesus Of Nazareth, this movie places some of its focus on faith and the miraculous acts of God. But unlike that miniseries and the majority of other movies on this list, this one isn’t set at the time Jesus walked the earth.
This one is set in the modern day in Burleson, Texas, and it tells the true story of the Beam family and the youngest member, 10-year-old Anna, who had an ‘incurable’ disease until an extraordinary miracle cured her of her illness.
Although this movie doesn’t feature Jesus, it is still a movie that is inspired by Him and the miraculous acts he performed in the Bible. For Christians, the story of Anna’s healing is evidence that Jesus is alive and still working in the lives of ordinary people living today.
Like Jesus Of Nazareth, this movie retells the story of Jesus’s life and the relationships He had with His disciples. But unlike that miniseries, this one is set in contemporary times and imagines Jesus as a jubilant figure living in 70s New York carrying out the mission that has been given to Him by God.
The movie is an adaption of the off-Broadway musical of the same name that used the Gospel of Matthew as its foundation. Jesus is dressed in a Superman shirt (the S presumably signifies Saviour), and his band of youthful disciples, who are made to resemble an acting troupe, also wear modern (slightly hippyish) costumes. But as contemporary as the movie is, it still uses as its basis the parables of Jesus that we hear about in other Biblical adaptations, including Jesus Of Nazareth.
The musical numbers, which include Day By Day and By My Side, are all beautifully performed by the accomplished cast who evoke the devotion and love the disciples had for Jesus. Some people dismiss this movie as silly and cheesy but it’s actually a well-thought-out depiction of Jesus’ life with some scenes, especially those towards the end, that might move you to tears.
So, there we have it, our list of movies that are similar to Jesus Of Nazareth. What do you think of our picks? Did one of your favourites make the list? Let us know in the comments below!