These are my three favorite films that are obsessed with the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Hopefully, I will see more like these in the future.
1. Wise Blood (1979)- John Huston
Based on Flannery O’Connor’s Novel of the same name, Wise Blood is not only a great film about obsession with Jesus, it is also an effective adaptation of a book. After returning from the army, Hazel Motes has decided to take up preaching—preaching “The Church Without Christ” that is. John Huston may have intended to make a satire about Christian redicu-ligion in the South, but he ended up creating something closer to what O’Conner imagined: a story about a man “for whom—like the author—belief in Christ is, as she wrote, a ‘matter of life and death.'” (Wise Blood: A Matter of Life and Death by Francine Prose)
2. The Passion of Joann of Arc (1928)- Carl Theodore Dryer
The Passion of Joann of Arc is a black and white silent masterpiece. Like my friend, Ben Roberts, said “it’s incredibly watchable.” I think the assumption is, “Oh man, no words? Then, me no watch.” If you are sailing on that boat, it’s a shame really. You are missing out on a pantheon of great films and this is one of the best. With the script was taken directly from the actual Jesus confused trial records, The Passion of Joan of Arc is as close to a time machine as we are likely to get.
3. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)- Martin Scorcesse
The Last Temptation of Christ is the most controversial film about Jesus ever made, but it’s also the very best. Author Nikos Kazantzakis set out to depict that huge theological brain-teaser: how Jesus of Nazareth could be both fully man and fully God in day to day life. And while, Kazantzakis’s, Scorsese’s, and Dafoe’s Jesus, may lean a bit too far on the human side of the spectrum, he is definitely a more convincing Christ than I’ve seen in any other film. This is not meant to be the Gospels, the author of the book and the director of the film say as much, so watch the film for its genuine theological obsession with the nature of Jesus Christ. To quote Roger Ebert’s review:
Here is a film that engaged me on the subject of Christ’s dual nature, that caused me to think about the mystery of a being who could be both God and man. I cannot think of another film on a religious subject that has challenged me more fully. (Ebert, The Last Temptation of Christ)