Surprisingly enough, there aren`t a lot of specifically Easter-themed films. Some people compensate for this fact by watching religious movies at this time of the year, most often one of the great Biblical epics made in the 1950s and early 60s, things like Ben Hur (1959) or The Ten Commandments (1956) or King of Kings (1961). But the truth is that these films rarely manage to move the more critical viewer, whatever his religious beliefs. Some scenes or moments in each are highly effective, but as a whole the movies are best viewed as entertainment rather than aids to devotion.
I would therefore propose, as a fitting and worthwhile alternative (or at least supplement) to these films, a picture which communicates truths about life, death, choice, and the common plight of humanity in a deeply moving way, and one which can be immediately grasped by audiences regardless of race, religion, or nationality. Akira Kurosawa`s 1952 film Ikiru–which means “To live“–tells the story of a man who suddenly discovers that he is dying. The movie examines his last days, how he chooses to spend them, and how his legacy affects those he leaves behind. Ikiru has rightly been deemed one of the world`s greatest films.
It`s not a religious film, but its message is universal and life-affirming, while the movie also manages to be almost painfully realistic in its presentation of human behavior. And since it doesn`t offer any of the often distracting splendor and grandiosity marking the Biblical stories as interpreted by Hollywood, it may in fact awaken altruistic and benevolent emotions more effectively than those Technicolored epics, if such a rousing of the more noble emotions is what people want from an Easter movie. In any case it is guaranteed to make people seriously reconsider their own lives, and that is something which is important at any time of the year.
Furthermore–to close on a lighter note–it offers an unforgettable scene featuring a little toy bunny, and on that basis alone should qualify as an Easter movie.
Please share your own picks for either traditional or non-traditional Easter movies in the comments below! And if you want to see a movie with an unconventional use of a toy bunny, see this post.