The Resurrection in Film

MV5BMTY5MjA3MTY2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMzNzYzMw@@._V1_SX214_AL_As we are celebrating the Easter season, with a focus on the resurrection, I got to thinking today about all the movies I love that mirror the death and resurrection of Jesus (in some way). I found the list below online. I think it is generally a good one, with a few exceptions. One movie I think is a beautiful picture of life reborn amidst sacrifice is Stranger Than Fiction (2006). Will Ferrell’s character discovers that he is a character in a writer’s (played by Emma Thompson) novel, and will soon be killed off. He knowingly makes the choice to participate in a sacrificial death, but later discover he lives. His life results in the novelist’s life holding greater purpose. Although the film does not mirror Christ 100%, i love it as a an awesome representation of a sacrificial life.

Whether you check out this movie or any of the one’s on the list below, I pray you will celebrate life this Easter season, looking for Christ’s work around you (even in movies).


Movies/Scenes Representing Resurrection (from

  • John Q (2002)
    • This movie depicts the plight of a father (Denzel Washington) willing to lay down his life for his son and therefore should be cross-referenced under Abraham and Issac and Cross and Resurrection in the sense of the suffering of God through the evil of Jesus deathAs a social commentary, it pricks our conscience about a society with medical services for those who can afford them and death for those who cannot. As redemptive drama, it also shows the metanoia or reversal of thinking in several characters who broker the power of the HMO medical system but in the end ultimately side with the powerlessness of John Q. and his son. (Dr. Barry A. WoodbridgeOrangethorpe Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)Fullerton, CA)
  • The Shipping News (2001)
    • The wake, during which Jack arises, is found at DVD ch 17. This entire movie is the story of rebirth for many characters, especially Quoyle, who is portrayed as the walking-dead. He finds life through confronting the “demons” of his past, and through finding community and relationship in a village in Newfoundland.
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)
    • The “resurrection” of John Nash’s humanity. Being lost in the land of schizophrenia – his losing (almost) his wife and son. The recognition eventually of his essence – of his gifts. (Joanna Christian-TippleCatskill, NY)
  • The Hurricane (1999)
    • Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a champion middleweight boxer, is imprisoned for life for murders he did not commit. After exhausting every possibility for appeal, he tells his wife that he wants her to divorce him and to move on with her life, saying, “I’m dead. Forget about me.” The Hurricane uses his prison time to read, study, and eventually write a book about his life — a book that is published and becomes a best seller, but which is then soon forgotten. Years later, a Black teen from the ghetto finds a copy of the Hurricane’s life story at a used book sale, and buys it for a quarter. Moved by what he read, the young man, Lesera Martin, writes a letter to the prisoner, and begins a relationship and a process that eventually leads to the overturning of the conviction. At a pivotal moment, the Hurricane notes that it was “no accident” that Lesera had come across that book. He quotes Genesis 49 about himself, “Reuben, my firstborn . . . pre-eminent in pride . . .   Unstable as water, you shall not prevail.” He then contrasts his name to that of Lesera, a form of the name Lazarus, the one raised from death. The Hurricane tells Lesera that hate had killed Reuben and buried him, forgotten, in the prison walls, but Lesera’s love had raised him and given him life once again. (Mark D. Johns, Instructor of Communication/Linguistics, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa)
  • Fantasia 2000 (1999)
    • Resurrection themes or “new beginnings” are visited in the segment for The Firebird Suite. (Kirk VanGilderCampus MinisterGallaudet University)
  • Bicentennial Man (1999)
    • Andrew (Robin Williams) is an android who develops the sensitivity, creativity and emotions of a human. Over a period of more than 150 years, he persues his dream of being recognized as human. His appeals are denied because, since he cannot die, he lacks the essential mortality of humanity. Finally, Andrew arranges for his body to deteriorate. He would rather die as a man than live forever as a machine. Andrew enbraces the “cross” of mortality, giving up his life in order to gain it. (FUMC, Natchitoches, LA)
  • Double Jeopardy (1999)
    • There’s a great resurrection/raising of Lazarus scene within this movie. Libby is locked in a casket in a New Orleans tomb by her husband. By the illumination of a cigarette lighter she realizes her condition and even sees a corpse in the coffin next to her. There’s a moment when we see light streaming through the stained glass window (cross) onto the coffin, after which she shoots the locks from the inside and then pushes the lid open and comes out. But she’s still locked in the tomb. So she takes a vase from the altar smashes the stained glass window, and escapes (through the cross!). (DVD chapter 13)
    • Matty finds sees his mother whom he thought was dead. (“They told me you were dead.” “No, Sweetheart.”) (DVD chapter 15) 
  • The Mummy (1999)
    • The return of the mummy is a kind of “Night of the Living Dead” like the raising of Lazarus. (Also a spooky story.) Compare with the resurrection of Christ.
  • The Matrix (1999)
    • Neo is shot dead and comes back to life toward the end of the movie. (See reviewat Hollywood Jesus.)
  • At First Sight (1999)
    • The movie “At First Sight” from a few years ago, on the overwhelming power of the resurrection to totally reorient someone from one kind of life to another. While it might desirable for someone who is blind to be able to see, if one is accustomed to functioning and thriving as a blind person, gaining one’s sight can be totally disorienting. It can even make one dependent and not able to function as before. Discontinuity between the past life and new life. (Allen Schoonover)
  • Dogma (1999)
    • Bethany is fatally shot and healed by God. (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
  • Wild Wild West (1999)
    • Jim West is resurrected just before he defeats “Satan”. (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
  • Dark City (1998)
    • John escapes from the Time Cross and battles the forces of Evil. (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
  • Patch Adams (1998)
    • “I used Patch Adams for my Easter sermon last year: Patch’s unwillingness to conform to expectations and the unwillingness of established authority to entertain his eccentricities; Patch’s resolve to do whatever is necessary to make the connection with patients, even if it means breaking the rules as an image for what God does in the Resurrection; and, of course, the nearly explicit image of resurrection that is evoked when Patch is questioning his own life’s mission and a butterfly (the ancient symbol of resurrection) is received as a message from God that gives him hope to carry on. A red nose on Easter Sunday isn’t too bad either!” (Jed Holdorph, St. Lawrence Episcopal Church, Libertyville, Illinois)
  • Beloved (1998)
  • The Truman Show (1998)
    • What about the final scene of The Truman Show! The friend went to the basement to find Truman (The empty tomb). He was not there! He was in a boat on the water. Notice the drowning scene when he is laying on the boat with arms spread out and left for dead. Notice his gasp for air, his new life, resurrection? When he reaches the end of the set and notices the sky is only a painted canvas, Truman ascends the stairs to hear the voice of his creator. Interesting twist eh? He then goes forth into the unknown darkness of the world to live in the world! Not unlike the gift of the Paraclete? (David W. Girod, Durham, NC)
  • The Mask of Zorro (1998)
  • Titanic (1997)
    • final scene in movie
  • The Game (1997)
    • Nicholas “dies” (is drugged) where his father died, and is “resurrected” in Mexico
  • Spitfire Grill (1996)
  • A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
    • A vineyard that has existed for generations is destroyed by fire. Yet, there is hope, because the root of the original vine is still alive. From it, the vineyard is regenerated. I think this would be a great illustration for the Root of Jesse. (Kris Sallee Pleasant Plains, IL)
  • Powder (1995)
  • The Stand (1994)
    • Nick Andros visits at the end of the movie. The birth of a healthy baby.
  • The Secret of Roan Innish (1994)
    • This movie has a powerful resurrection theme along with the theme of faith. If you haven’t seen this gorgeous movie, filmed on the Irish coast, rent it and love it. (Kristen J Ingram)
  • Jesus of Montreal (1989)
    • This is a film that is so rich it could illustrate any number of themes: discipleship, temptation, redemption, etc. Jesus of Montreal tells the story of an actor hired to help update a parish’s annual Passion Play. He gathers a group of actors around him and  in interesting ways the actors lives mirror the stories of Jesus and his followers from the gospels. Memorable scenes for me include the gathering of the actors (Jesus calling his disciples); the actor destroying a television studio (Jesus destroys the temple); a lawyer trying to get the actor to sign a contract (temptation in the wilderness); and the dead actor’s organs being donated so that others can have life. (Rev. Maria Nightingale)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
    • Dr. Jones, Marcus, and Salah all presume Indy to be dead. They mourn him. When he turns up alive seconds later, it’s back to business as usual. (Bill Mosley, New Ulm TX)
  • Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
    • Keating?s disciples are questioned and pressured into signing a confession, all set into motion by a betraying Judas who tells the other students “save yourselves.” Keating?s regeneration comes in the final scene, when the disciples engage in a demonstration which affirms his impact on their lives. (“The Messianic Figure in Film: Christology Beyond the Biblical Epic,” Matthew Mc Ever, Journal of Religion and Film, 1998)
  • The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
    • An interesting “Raising of Lazarus” scene. Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus, obviously afraid. He reaches into the tomb for Lazarus, struggling (perhaps with his own death) and almost being pulled in before he pulls Lazarus out.
  • RoboCop (1987)
  • Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock
    • Spock is resurrected on the planet “Genesis”. (Chip Gorman)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
    • There is a wonderful scene in E.T. where the Elliot sees a potted flower come back to life and realizes — all of a sudden — that his friend and guide is not dead but alive.  It beautifully illustrates the JOY of the resurrection. (Bruce Jones)
  • Superman (1978)
    • After being thrown to his death in the water by Lex Luthor, Superman is resurrected in the presence of Eve.
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
    • The final scene’s broken window as an “empty tomb” image.
  • Cool Hand Luke (1967)
    • photo of Luke with 2 women is taped back together
    • This film has several resurrections, starting with his “crucifixion” following the egg incident. The other, as was mentioned, was his picture being taped up and superimposed on a cross. A third was when he was ordered to dig his own grave, and kept on crawling out; he finally gave up the ghost, and the reaction of his “disciples” was very interesting. The ignored him as a “sell out,” which is what the disciples might have felt when he died that Good Friday – ‘Here we put all our marbles in this one hat, and he goes and dies on us. What a waste. Boy, were we ever stupid. This isn’t God after all – it’s just a guy, like you and me, a guy who can be killed.’ Which made his ensuing escape even more victorious. (Tim Ihssen)

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

Be the first to start the conversation!

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image