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Easter Is Coming! What Families Can Watch

,, | March 8, 2024 | By

Hollywood doesn’t want to be left out of your contemplation on Jesus’ death and Resurrection, or the fun of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs. This Lent, get your family together to watch one of these movies.

Some are about the Christian heart of Easter; others are just for fun. And not all are suitable for all ages.

Sacred Easter Stories

The Passion of the Christ (best for high-schoolers and up)

There’s one word for producer/director Mel Gibson’s adaptation of Jesus’ death: intense. Jim Caviezel’s performance as Jesus provides a powerful Good Friday meditation, and I was drawn into the torment of Jesus’ followers, especially His Mother.

It is all too apparent in this depiction that “a sword pierced her heart.” Also, all the lines are in their original Greek, Latin, or Aramaic, adding another layer of realism. (Subtitles make it accessible.)

Available on Prime or Roku, this R-rated movie is beautiful, but not for the faint of heart.


Jesus of Nazareth (suitable for middle-schoolers and up, but may be too slow for tweens)

For another depiction of Jesus’ ministry and last days, Franco Zeffirelli's 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth is well worth a watch. The scenes of His Passion aren’t watered down, but less graphic than The Passion.

Technically, Jesus of Nazareth is three movies, but the last is a good Lenten family watch. The movies are beautiful and slightly ethereal, but still grounded, filled with ties to ancient Jewish culture.

Watch on Amazon, AppleTV, or Peacock. You can also watch the whole thing on YouTube.


Ben-Hur (suitable for middle-schoolers and up)

For classic movie lovers, director William Wyler's 1959 Ben-Hur is the story of a wealthy young Jew whose life is changed by the birth of Christianity.

Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, is betrayed by a childhood friend, and must embark on a journey for revenge and to be reunited with his family. The movie’s climax tangles the characters into the Passion of Christ and ends powerfully at His death.

I loved it as a child, for the beautiful cinematography, costumes, and storyline. Watch on YouTube Movies or Amazon Prime.

Be aware, though, that while the famous chariot-race scene is exciting, it also features some graphic violence (not outrageous by today's standards, but it may disturb younger tweens).


The Robe (suitable for middle-schoolers and up)

You could start The Robe immediately after Ben-Hur, as the 1953 film follows Richard Burton as the Roman soldier who famously won Jesus’ robe in a dice game below the Cross.

Roman superstition causes local officials to suspect that the robe is cursed, so the ignorant soldier who wound up with it is assigned to investigate. While tracking down Christians, he finds Christ instead.

Available on Amazon, YouTube, and AppleTV; the whole film is also on Dailymotion.


Secular Easter Stories

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (suitable for all ages)

Kids will enjoy the not explicitly religious It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. Available on AppleTV and Roku, it combines secular customs surrounding Easter (dyeing eggs, wearing bonnets, etc.) with humorous, lovable characters.

Charlie Brown seeks the meaning of Easter as his friends prepare for it, in their characteristically ineffective manner. I quite enjoy them trying to cook Easter eggs in a waffle maker.


Rise of the Guardians (suitable for grade-schoolers and up)

Lastly, the whole family will love the loosely Easter-related Rise of the Guardians. This is hands-down one of the best kids movies I’ve seen. With hilarious dialogue and unique characters, it is the story of Jack Frost becoming one of the “Guardians,” all the folktale characters necessary for a whimsical childhood.

An adorable Tooth Fairy, Australian Easter bunny (jackrabbit!), Russian Santa, and more teach Jack how to be a Guardian of children’s joy. Available on Prime, AppleTV and elsewhere.


And as a Bonus (best for middle-schoolers and up) ...

Family Theater Productions' documentary biopic PRAY: THE STORY OF PATRICK PEYTON is showing on the streaming service UP Faith & Family. Inspire your family with an Irish priest's powerful love of our Lady and her Rosary with a movie night this Lent.

Here's a Shalom World special done on it:


Image: Canva

Sophia Sariego is a Los Angeles native working in the pro-life movement.  She loves Eucharistic Adoration, making music, and hitting the beaches in her spare time. 

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