Published On: Tue, Jun 22nd, 2021

The 5 Most Memorable Portrayals of Jesus Christ on the Big Screen

In celebration of the binge-worthy show The Chosen, the most expensive ($28.7 million and counting) crowdfunded series in history with a 9.7 imdb rating, we’re going to break down the most famous and infamous portrayals of Jesus Christ in film history. If you haven’t heard of The Chosen it may be because of its unique delivery system. The show is accessible online and from mobile devices on one of the most popular Christian apps around. It’s called The Chosen App. For the converted, who already love and binge the show, these films will help you get your Jesus fix as we wait for Season 2’s new episodes.


Many would argue that Jesus Christ is the most significant religious figure who ever lived. Though it has been a hair over 2000 years since he roamed the earth, portrayals of the self-professed son of God have been a source of great entertainment and controversy throughout film history. These are the most memorable features about Him.




The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)


One of the most controversial films in history is Martin Scorcese’s mystical feature. It takes on the question, what would Jesus have done if he had rejected his mission from God and decided to live a life of carnal pleasure with Mary Magdalene? Given the sexual nature of the film it was protested and banned in certain parts of the world. On the other hand it’s a deeply interesting film that is far less controversial than the protests would suggest. Willem Dafoe was a sensational morally conflicted Christ and who can resist Harvey Keitel’s Brooklyn-accented take on Judas?


Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

The glammed out musical is part camp, but it told the story of Christ in a brand new way. Mixing 70s style slang and Biblical scripture, the exuberant music will be stuck in your head on first listen. See Jesus like never before, groovier than you could ever imagine–and if you could believe it, it’s dramatically tense. Theologically it’s also interesting, as it asks a lot of deep questions about free-will. Also, unlike many other Jesus portrayals, it was actually shot in Israel where Jesus lived. 


The Passion of the Christ (2004)

With all the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson through the years it’s hard to remember he was once a great director. The Passion of the Christ is no exception. Shot in the dead language that Jesus spoke, Aramaic, it is an exceptionally odd film, especially for one that grossed $612 million dollars internationally. It really takes you down the rabbit hole and allows the viewer to feel the weight of JC’s great sacrifice.


The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

If you’re going by critical consensus, this film is by far the greatest cinematic achievement in the Jesus genre. Famed director Pier Paolo Pasolini created a deeply challenging auteur film that wrestled with his own confusion as a Catholic Marxist. Interestingly enough, he was also homosexual who was murdered mysteriously in 1975. The film itself is shot in a neorealist style that modernizes the story of Jesus and makes you feel His struggle like nothing else ever conceived. 


The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

As the title suggests, this is definitely the most epic Hollywood film centered around Jesus Christ. While it doesn’t quite deliver as well as other epic journeys of the era, it is chock full of memorable performances and images. Max von Sydow portrayal of Jesus is brilliant and greatly aided by one of the most star-studded casts in film history.  

Author: Shilpi Jasrotia

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