Within the framework of Holy Week, we recommend 10 films that approach religion in an artistic, challenging and unconventional way .
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Andrés Rodríguez
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Regardless of religious belief, it must be recognized that Catholicism has been a source of inspiration for great works of cinema. Its iconography and stories have allowed artists to explore the fundamental question of man in search of meaning through conception and relationship with a divine figure. In the context of Holy Week, we recommend 10 films, from classics to musicals, that reflect on self-denial, power, vocation, anguish and death, from sublime images and unforgettable cinematographic moments.
"The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928)
The tape portrays the trial of the heroine who led the French troops in the siege of Orleans during the Hundred Years War. She claimed that she was guided by divine visions, and when she was captured by English loyalists, she was accused of heresy and sentenced to be burned at the stake. It is considered one of the best films in history, especially for the leading performance of Renée Jeanne Falconetti. Available on Vimeo.
"Ben Hur" (1959)
Based on the 1800 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” this epic adventure directed by William Wyler is the highest-budgeted film in history and set the record for Oscar wins with eleven awards. Judah (Charlton Heston) is a Jewish prince enslaved by the Roman Empire and separated from his mother and sister. As he fights for his freedom to find them again, he witnesses how Jesus becomes a messianic figure. Available on HBO Max.
"The Gospel According to St. Matthew" (1964)
Directed by the iconic Pier Paolo Pasolini, this classic of Italian neorealism adapts to the letter the first book of the New Testament from the birth to the resurrection of Jesus, played by the natural actor Enrique Irazoqui. Pasolini, openly atheist, had been accused of blasphemy for using the figure of Christ in his short film “La ricotta”. However, his interest in the religious subject was surprising, which he explained by describing himself as "a skeptic with nostalgia for a belief". Available on YouTube.
"Life of Brian" (1979)
British comedy troupe Monty Python caused a stir with this religious satire in which the titular Brian (Graham Chapman) is unfortunate enough to be born on the same day as Jesus, thus being mistaken for the messiah throughout his life. At the time of its premiere, it was considered blasphemous and banned in several countries, but this did not prevent it from being a box office success and is classified by many media as the best comedy of all time. Available on Netflix.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" (1973)
Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical is one of the most peculiar adaptations of passion. Originally conceived as a rock opera concept album, the project hit the Broadway stage in 1971 and instantly became a hit, grossing more than $200 million worldwide. The film centers on the conflict between Jesus (Ted Neeley) and Judas (Carl Anderson), who thinks the prophet has lost himself in megalomania and fears retaliation from the Roman Empire. Available for rent on digital platforms.
"The Mission" (1986)
Winner of the Palme d'Or. Roland Joffé's film is an epic tale of Jesuit missionaries in South America during the 18th century. Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) tries to convert a Guaraní community to Christianity and, associating with a repentant mercenary (Robert De Niro), they face the siege of the Portuguese government on the territory and the inhabitants. Although it has been criticized for its historical inaccuracies, it has established itself as a classic thanks to its incredible photography and the soundtrack by maestro Ennio Morricone, one of the best of his career and in the history of cinema. Available on YouTube.
"The Sacrifice" (1986)
Andrei Tarkovsky's last film. Explore man's relationship with death from the story of Alexander (Erland Josephson), an intellectual who, faced with the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, seeks to negotiate with God for his intervention by giving up everything he loves. Tarkovsky acknowledged the influence of Bergman's filmography for its existentialist tone and work with much of the Swedish director's usual team. Available on YouTube.
Based on the play of the same name, this religious drama has one of the best casts of the 21st century. In a Catholic school in the Bronx, in 1964, the behavior of Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the reports of Sister James (Amy Adams) make Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) wonder if the father is abusing a student. But the lack of evidence to confirm his suspicions causes a crisis of faith. Available for rent on digital platforms.
One of the most controversial films of recent years, this psychological thriller by Darren Aronofsky can be considered a modern adaptation of the Old Testament as a parable on climate change and the exploitation of the earth. Mother (Jennier Lawrence) lives with her husband (Javier Bardem), a famous poet, in an idyllic country house. The arrival of a mysterious man (Ed Harris) and his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) interrupts the tranquility of the mother, who is a witness and victim of multiple abuses. Available for rent on digital platforms.
Maggie Betts surprised with her first film about faith and feminism in the Catholic Church. In 1950 a young woman (Margaret Qualley) decides to join a convent in which the mother superior (Melissa Leo) persists in the traditional practices of physical punishment as part of the novitiate, ignoring the considerations of the Second Vatican Council that changed the status of nuns in the religious institution. Available for rent on digital platforms.