Palm Sunday is here, which means a week from today will be Easter. There'll be a solemn time of reflection on Good Friday that will culminate in a day of celebration on Sunday. To complement the monumental event that we remember, here are a few grand scale Easter epics to explore and use to revisit the meaning of the holiday.
The Robe (1953, NR) It's worth noting that in the early-1950s, television screens were drawing much attention away from cinemas and placing it in the living room. To combat the tube, theaters attempted several measures to reclaim their audiences' sight. A new attraction theaters implemented was CinemaScope, an anamorphic format used to create an ultra wide picture. The movie, The Robe was the first film released in this new aspect ratio. Therefore, we're presented with a sizable view of Calvary as Richard Burton plays the Roman tribune who wins Christ's garment while casting lots.
The story follows the officer, after the crucifixion, as he travels the Holy Land and becomes mad with guilt. His path crosses with those who had walked with Christ and through them he learns who Jesus was. Available on Netflix, it's an intriguing concept and a nice tale of redemption.
Ben-Hur (1959, NR) This film version, starring Charlton Heston as the title role, is an astonishing landmark of film. Winning eleven Oscars, it is a movie of literal epic proportion. The scale is huge, the story is deep, and the action is intense and with a run time of nearly four hours, it never ceases to lose its allure. Watching the spectacle that is the chariot race will leave you in awe every time.
Judah Ben-Hur is a prince, whose life happens to coincide with Jesus' in Jerusalem. He is betrayed by his friend and falls from his wealthy position into a state of slavery. Fueled by revenge, we watch as Ben-Hur raises himself back up through the ranks to regain his position of power. Not only does the movie impress with its size and effects, but it offers a refreshing look at the importance of morals and principles. It's on TCM late Friday night/ early Saturday morning at 2:00am. I don't know why they're showing it so late, but perhaps you can record it or even pull a Good Friday all-nighter.
The Passion of the Christ (2003, R) It's a well crafted and a very realistic portrayal of Jesus' final hours on earth. This one doesn't shy away from the torture and suffering He experienced during His sacrifice; in fact it's the film's focus. We are shown the grueling weight of our sins but through it we are also able to see a depth of God's Love and Grace.
The Passion isn't a movie made for the sake of entertainment and it's not one you feel like having repeated viewings of. So if you haven't seen it in a while or you feel like making the investment it's available on Netflix.
Want an extra dose of the Easter spirit? You're more than welcome to Trinity Church to watch a reenactment of the Easter story, this evening at 6 p.m., as well as on Saturday.
(Reece Kelly, a native of East Liverpool, studied Film at Regent University. He can be reached at ReecesReviews@gmail.com)