I MADE A VOW, A FEW YEARS BACK, that during Holy Week, I will be watching nothing else but religious films, to induce me to meditate about the sacred things in this life and beyond. So, for this Lenten break, may I present to you all: my top utterly religious films to watch (and they’re unquestioned cinematic classics too):
Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Director’s Cut Roadshow Version, 3 hrs 14 min. Best for Holy Monday. — A poor ironsmith in medieval France (who looks like Legolas) kills his brother, a monk, and joins the Crusade to seek salvation and redemption in the super-holey city of Jerusalem. The Christians and Muslims, gripped by their religious faith and quest for brotherhood (and sisterhood, in the case of Eva Green as shown in screenshot), rush to each others’ arms and bless each other with their swords and siege engines.
King Arthur (2004), Extended version, 2 hrs 22 min. Best for Holy Tuesday. — A quasi-historic retelling of the timeless Arthurian legend, in which Arthur is an ultra-religious Christian missionary knight who wants to spread the good news of the Gospels, Papal edicts, and the benevolent rule of Roman Law among the Druidian Celts and their equally warlike enemies, the Saxons. The Romanized Britons and the pagan Woads, gripped by their religious faith and quest for brotherhood (and sisterhood, in the case of Kiera Knightley), rush to each others’ arms and bless each other with their swords, arrows and axes.
300: Rise of an Empire (2014), 1 hr 43 min. Best for Holy Wednesday. — This sequel to the box-office hit “300” explains the roots of the friendly religious debate between the ancient Greeks, who worshipped their gods and goddesses in Olympus, and the equally ancient Persians, who had come to adore their god-king Xerxes — who BTW wears intricate golden chains festooned all around his absolutely buff body, which any woman or gay man would kill for. The Greeks and the Persians, gripped by their religious faith and quest for brotherhood (and sisterhood, in the case of Eva Green and Lena Headey), rush to each others’ arms and bless each other with their arrows, spears, and swords.
Braveheart (1995), 2 hrs 58 min. Best for Holy Thursday. A quasi-historic retelling of the pious missionary travels of Scottish national hero William Wallace, who studied Latin and theology in Rome and wanted to pursue peace and justice and settle his quarrels with Edward “Longshanks”, king of England, in the proper Christian spirit. The Scottish and English armies, gripped by a common religious faith and quest for brotherhood (and prospects of motherhood, in the case of Sophie Marceau), rush to each others’ arms and bless each other with their swords, arrows and palisades.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), 1 hr 30 min. Best for Good Friday, if you really want to get properly morose and depressed while on your Loboc Bohol river cruise. The Spanish expedition is sent to the depths of the Amazon Basin’s endless swamps to find the fabled El Dorado. Their religious conviction to spread the Christian faith among the heathen Indians is so relentless, their raftload of ethnically diverse passengers is soon blessed with God’s grace. Eventually, they learn to smother each other with the loving care of their swords, cannon and blunderbuss.
Troy (2004), 2 hrs 36 min. Best for Holy Saturday, in order to recover quickly from your Good Friday malaise. An epic retelling of Homer’s Iliad, which I insist is a predominantly religious film because it always gives prominence to the defense of temples, to gods like Apollo (with his nubile temple priestesses), and absolut goddesses like Diane Kruger. Needless to say, the Achaean and Trojan armies, gripped by their religious faith and quest for brotherhood (and sisterhood, in the case of Diane Kruger and Rose Byrne), rush to each others’ arms and bless each other with their swords, battle axes, spears, arrows, and palisades.
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), 2 hrs 48 min. Best for Easter Sunday. An epic historical drama about the Christian children’s-book adventures of the national hero of France, her sword (a personal gift from St. Catherine of Fierbois) and her battle standard (a white banner with fleur-de-lis, which soon became the Boy Scouts symbol). Milla Jovovich, who looks so pretty riding a white horse in metalware and a boy-band hairstyle, has been inspiring young generations of Christian millenarians ever since.
A whole cast of nuns, bishops, dauphins, and other God-fearing officials of Church and State, provide endless proof of God’s miracles, whether in siege tactics or in court tactics. The pious French and English-Burgundian armies, gripped by their religious faith and quest for brotherhood (and sainthood, in the case of Milla), repeatedly rush to each others’ arms and fervently bless each other with their swords, arrows and siegecraft.
As their way of cementing the peace and order that ensued, the English churchmen assist Jeanne d’Arc ascend to heaven and eventual sainthood through a celebratory bonfire.
So if you have nothing else to do but binge-watch this week, please observe Lenten protocols by watching religious films only, as indicated in my recommended list. You’re welcome to add to the list. #