Joseph’s story is one of the most known Bible stories. Many people know about his colorful coat, the betrayal by his brothers, and his rags-to-riches story. Joseph’s story is also one of the most adapted Bible stories with live-action movies to cartoons that handle it as a comedy. While some stories stay true to the text, others take more liberties but provide educational lessons. Here are some movies about Joseph that everyone should see.
"The Story of Joseph and Jacob" (1974)
This 104-minute television film tells the story of Jacob, Joseph’s father, before getting to Joseph’s story. Similar to Jesus of Nazareth, a movie released around the same time, this movie aged well because there’s a little melodrama and camp, but not too much. The script highlights Joseph and Jacob’s lives, discovering new ways to give the personality of the characters without inventing new backstories. Seeing Jacob’s story also offers Joseph’s resonance, and viewers will see that both men were younger brothers who their siblings overlooked. This efficient and clever movie is worth watching today and is appropriate for children.
"The Bible Collection: Joseph" (1995)
This two-part television movie shows the bigger picture of Joseph’s family and includes stories that other Bible movies typically leave out. For example, it shares how a Canaanite assaulted Joseph’s sister Dinah when the family moved to Canaan and how Reuben slept with one of Jacob’s concubines. This miniseries gives these stories without too much sexual detail, using them as context as to why Jacob favors Joseph over his other sons. It also shows how Judah learns about repentance. This film freshly shows Joseph’s adventures, describing Potiphar as a wise man who knows Joseph is innocent but punishes him to save face, which fits the Bible narrative better. While this film tells the whole story, not only highlights, it’s better to watch this one without the kids.
"Joseph's Gift" (1998)
Joseph’s Gift is different because it retells the story in a modern-day setting. It tells the story of Jacob Keller, a clothing financier who favors his younger son Joseph over his other children. This favoritism alienates his older sons and makes them believe they won’t get their share of the family business. Joseph’s brothers pay a sweatshop owner to make him disappear, and he loses everything, including a custom-made leather jacket sewn by his father. Over the years, Joseph endures numerous struggles, from working in a sweatshop to being a psychiatric hospital patient. Eventually, he becomes a financier, meeting his brothers when their business needs a loan from him. This film might not be prestige television, but it handles the material cleverly. The religious material is toned down, but the film is still worth checking out with the adults.
"Joseph: King of Dreams" (2000)
Due to Joseph: King of Dreams being made around the same time DreamWorks made Prince of Egypt and its release as a sequel, this film receives criticism for not matching the Prince of Egypt’s quality. However, this mixed match in quality may be because Joseph’s story isn’t as dramatic as Moses’. There are no plagues, large-scale miracles, or visitations from God. Still, the visual designs of the film are captivating, and Joseph seems furious with God when his life falls apart. In the end, this movie is a fun Joseph movie that makes him look human and gifted. It’s also appropriate for the entire family to watch.
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (1972)
This play has attracted controversy in the past from Christian groups because some versions used vulgar costumes. Costumes may depend on who produces the play, but the bigger problem for viewers is the script’s perspective on God’s role in Joseph’s life. Joseph talks about destiny and his dreams coming true, but the play leaves out statements like Genesis 5:20, which says, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The play may secularize the story, but that’s not different from the Bible cartoons that treat Joseph’s tale as an adventure story. Play performances depend on who produces them, so any secularization might not be a factor depending on the production you watch. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a fun play, no matter the rendition, but it may not be appropriate for kids.
Joseph’s story is an inspiration because he overcame so much and had forgiveness in his heart for those who wronged him. The fun part about these films is they all tell the same story through a different lens while entertaining the masses. Whether you’re looking for an inspirational movie or trying to find a film for family movie night, try something different by watching one of these films, but make sure it’s appropriate for children before you start watching.