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Movie Mom

50 Most Important Religion Movies: Film Snobbery

posted by Nell Minow

Take a look at Phil Hall’s great list of the most important religious films of all time from website Film Snobbery. My favorite film about the life of Jesus, “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” is number 2 on the list. I was pleased to see some provocative and even irreverent titles including “The Life of Brian” and “Dogma.” The list includes well-known crowd-pleasers like “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Chariots of Fire,” and “Ben-Hur” along with some almost-unknowns like “Plan 10 from Outer Space” (“Trent Harris’ low-budget underground comedy reimagines Mormon history with a singing Karen Black as the extra-terrestrial wife of Brigham Young”) and “Man in the Fifth Dimension” (“Billy Graham’s film essay on the spiritual dimensions of the human condition had its premiere at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It is also noteworthy as the only non-theatrical film shot in the widescreen Todd-AO process”). It has a number of films that are truly inspiring. It includes some movies that frankly explore the mistakes, arrogance, and corruption that have been committed in the name of religion. It has documentaries, fact-based feature films and fiction, movies from the early silent era to a 2007 documentary. It includes films about Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, and Buddhism, films about saints, sinners, and a pair of friends who happen to be a tomato and a cucumber. And it has one of the funniest movies I know, “The Mad Adventures of ‘Rabbi’ Jacob.”

  • jestrfyl

    This is an impressive list. That they included “Dogma”, “Blues Brothers” and “Life of Brian” shows they have a broad an varied perspective – adding to their credibility. I might suggest “Brother From Another Planet” and perhaps even “The God’s Must Be Crazy”. Others I might suggest are “Amazing Grace” and “Amistad”. One that has stayed with me since I saw it as a young teen was Stacey Keach playing “Martin Luther”. Joseph Fiennes has done another film on Luther too. Other films to consider are “Agnes of God” and “Doubt”. One more to suggest is the overblown but still worthy “The Agony and the Ecstacy”. I might have included The Chronicles of narnia (as they are so far). But one they surely should have included is Mel Brooks “History of the World Part I”. Some parts of Monty Pythons “Meaning of Life” might qualify too.
    I don;t expect any of these “serious” lists to include two of my favorites, “Jesus Christ Vampire Slayer” and “Gory Gory Hallelujah” (both were screened several years ago at the Sarasota Film Festival – proof that the fest organizers have a broad and ironic sense of film. It is a great festival, you should come down for it)
    I guess we might have to extend the list to the top 100.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    The best thing about a list like Phil Hall’s is the discussion about what he left of. You have some great additions, jestrfyl, and you will not be surprised to hear that the last two were new to me! I’d add in also “The Rapture” and “Friendly Persuasion” and documentaries like “Marjoe,” “Jesus Camp,” “The Devil’s Playground,” and “At the Death House Door.”

  • jestrfyl

    I just thought of another, “Saved”. You might be interested to know that “Devils Playground” is in part about Sarasota – a favorite site for Amish Rumspringa because we have a large Amish community.

  • Walking eagle

    I think one movie that inspired me the most and convinced me that the death penalty is wrong is “The Scarlet and the Black” with Gregory Peck.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Walking Eagle, that is one of my very favorites. The conclusion of that film is one of the most truly inspiring I have ever seen, all the more because it is a true story. Many thanks.

  • http://vimeo.com/16802618 Luke S

    A short film from Germany deals with the subject Religion.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Luke S

    This is the link: http://vimeo.com/16802618

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment betty cowger

    I came into this page to posiblely buy a religious movies. I have yet to see a list. Thank you for nothing!

    • Nell Minow

      If you follow the link you will find the list, Betty. Perhaps the films will inspire a more thoughtful and kind attitude in your comments.

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