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11 Bible-based Movies for Families

Charlton Heston plays the Israelite prophet Moses from the Old Testament in the 1956 movie The Ten Commandments.


Photo ©Paramount Pictures

If Darren Aronofsky’s depiction of Noah didn’t live up to your expectations, don’t be too disappointed. Adapting a Bible story for the big screen can be a challenge for any director. And while many don’t stay entirely true to the text, we’ve rounded up some other Bible-based movies your family might like.

 

“We've rounded up some other Bible-based movies your family might like...”

Charlton Heston’s Moses may be one of the most recognizable portrayals of the Israelite prophet ever brought to the big screen in The Ten Commandments. In the epic 1956 film directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille, Moses faces off against the powerful Egyptian leader Rameses (played by Yul Brynner) and demands that the children of Israel be set free. DreamWorks Studios tells an animated version of the same story in Prince of Egypt.

The tale of Joseph and his coat of many colors is adapted to the stage in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The script is loosely based on the Old Testament, with generous liberties taken in telling the account of Jacob and his 12 sons. This video version, which includes colorful costumes and often comical musical numbers, is an easy and less expensive way to introduce your children to the stage production. Joseph’s adventures also come to the screen in the movie Joseph King of Dreams. This direct-to-video animation tells how the children of Israel got to Egypt in the first place. While the script employs some artistic license, the story of Joseph’s faith and forgiveness are two powerful themes.

The birth of Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament, is told in The Nativity Story. Combining lines from the original text with additional dialogue, the film embellishes the story but manages to stay true to the spirit of the event while rounding out the characters of Mary and Joseph.

Charlton Heston again commands the screen in the movie Ben-Hur, the fictional telling of a Jewish man who is unjustly accused by the Romans and forced into servitude on a Roman battleship. Only after he meets the teacher Jesus does he learn to forgive.

George Stevens tackles the New Testament in his movie The Greatest Story Ever Told. Although all viewers won’t agree with his vision of the life of Christ, he maintains a reverence for his subject matter. That same enthusiasm for the ancient script comes to the screen in the made for TV movie The Bible: The Epic Mini Series produced by the husband and wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Parts of the mini series dealing with Jesus’ life and ministry were released theatrically in the movie Son of God.

Following Christ’s crucifixion, the Roman guards gambled for his clothing. The Robe is a fictional tale of Marcellus Gallio, the Roman centurion who won the red cloth and vows to destroy it in order to free himself from his guilt.

Arguably one of the most graphic and disturbing portrayals of Jesus’ crucifixion, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is not a movie for the entire family. However some adults and older teens may gain a greater respect and appreciation for the brutal torment endured by Jesus at his death.

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