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Top 45 Vatican Films & Their Modern Pairings

, | April 21, 2020 | By


People always say, "They don't make movies like they used to," but is that strictly true?

In 1995, on the unofficial centenary of film, the Vatican released its top 45 films of all time in the categories of Religion, Values and Art. Recently, Jesuit-run America magazine released their top 25 films since 1995.

A more precise list pairs each Vatican film with its roughly modern equivalent, seen below. I tried my best to match the same foreign language between films. The other parameter was to select modern films since 1993, the year of the latest film on the Vatican list. A final stipulation was limiting a director to two total films as was the case with the original list.

Click on the film's title to go to its IMDB page, will will list if it's available on Amazon Prime Video. You can also Google each title, and the top of the search results should reveal if it's available on any other streaming services.


Andrei Rublev (1966)/12 (2007): Both in Russian

Babette’s Feast (1987)/The Celebration (1998): Both in Danish

Ben-Hur (1959)/Gladiator (2000)

Flowers of St. Francis (1950)/The Great Beauty (2013): Both in Italian

Francesco (1989)/The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

The Gospel According to Matthew (1964), in Italian/The Passion of the Christ (2004), in Latin and Aramaic

La vie et la passion de Jésus Christ, a k a The Passion Play/ (1903)/I’ll Wait for the Next One (2002): Both short films in French

A Man for All Seasons (1966)/A Hidden Life (2019)

The Mission (1986)/Silence (2016)

Monsieur Vincent (1947) in French/Calvary (2014), in English

Nazarin (1959) /El crimen del padre Amaro (2002): Both in Spanish

Ordet (1955), in Danish/The White Ribbon (2009), in German, Italian and Polish.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), silent with French intertitles/no modern equivalent

The Sacrifice (1986), in Swedish/Melancholia (2011)

Therese (1986) in French/Dogville (2003): A style pairing given each film’s barren art design


Au Revoir les Enfants (1988), in French/The Innocents (2016), in French, Polish and Russian

Bicycle Thieves (1949)/Life is Beautiful (1998): Both in Italian

The Burmese Harp (1956)/Letters from Iwo Jima (2006): Both in Japanese

Chariots of Fire (1981)/Race (2016)

Dekalog (1989) in Polish/Three Colours trilogy, Blue, White and Red, in French, Polish, Romanian (1993-1994)

Dersu Uzala (1975) in Russian/Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Gandhi (1982)/Selma (2014)

Intolerance: Love's Struggle Through the Ages (1916), silent/Cloud Atlas (2012)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)/Groundhog Day (1993)

On the Waterfront (1954)/Erin Brockovich (2000)

Rome, Open City (1945)/Malena (2000): Both in Italian

Schindler’s List (1993)/The Pianist (2002)

Seventh Seal (1957) in Swedish/The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)/My Brilliant Friend (2018) [TV]: Both in Italian

Wild Strawberries (1957)/Saraband (2003): Both in Swedish


Citizen Kane (1941)/1917 (2019): Paired for groundbreaking filmmaking techniques

8 ½ (1963) in Italian/ Ed Wood (1994)

Fantasia (1940)/The Lion King (1994): Both animated

Grand Illusion (1937). in French, German, Russian/Joyeux Noel (2005), in French & German

La Strada (1954)/The Star Maker (1995): Both in Italian

Lavender Hill Mob (1951)/Millions (2004)

The Leopard (1963) in Italian/Downton Abbey (2019)

Little Women (1933)/Little Women (2019)

Metropolis (1927), in German/Never Look Away (2018), in German and Russian

Modern Times (1936)/The Artist (2011): Both silent

Napoleon (1927) in French/unproduced Stanley Kubrick ‘Napoleon’ treatment (click here to see photos)

Nosferatu (1922) silent, German intertitles/Requiem (2006) in German

Stagecoach (1939)/True Grit (2010)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)/Gravity (2013)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)/Midnight in Paris (2011)

Image: Adobe Stock

Click here to visit Father Vince Kuna’s IMDB page.

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