Lent is a time for self-reflection about faith, so, here is a list of thought provoking, challenging films oriented around themes of faith in modern times, the role of the church, temptation, sacrifice, what Christianity entails and introspection on artist’s religion, hopefully to get you to think about what faith means to you during Lent.  

  1. Risen (2016) 

 

Risen follows a Roman soldier following the execution of Jesus. After the body of Jesus disappears, he is tasked with tracking down the disciples, who they believe stole the body from the tomb before they can spread the rumor that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. As the film progresses, the soldier learns the true meaning of what Jesus’ message, and starts to empathize with the disciples. 

Watch the trailer here 

2. Silence (2016) 

 

Martin Scorsese’s 2016 epic follows priests who are on a mission in Japan to find a missing priest who was on a missionary trip to spread the gospel. As the two priests, played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, search through Japan, an environment hostile to Christianity, they are forced to reflect on whether or not what they are doing is worth it in a place that clearly doesnot welcome them. 

Watch the trailer here 

3. The Last Temptationof Christ (1988)

 The 1988film about Jesus Christ was extremely controversial upon its release, due to the fact that it follows the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis of the same name, which has an interpretation of Jesus that isdifferent from how he is portrayed in the gospels. The humanity of Jesus, played by Willem Dafoe, is given more emphasis than in the Bible in the narrative of the film. As much as this may be off-putting to some viewers, the film does an incredible job emphasizing Jesus’ human side, adding an emotional gut-punch to the inevitable sacrifice that Jesus has to make, in a much more effective and non-manipulative way than Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. 

Watch the trailer here 

4. First Reformed (2017) 

 Paul Schrader, screenwriter of Taxi Driver as well as The Last Temptation of Christ, directed this film in 2017. The film stars Ethan Hawke as a priest who is struggling with a crisis of faith, wanting to believe that the church is doing what it can about the problems the world. The film deals with themes of climate change, radicalization, existential fear of the end of the world, andwhat the role of the church should be in modern times. 

While the film deals with Christian themes, it is important to note that a content warning may be important for this movie. After all it is directed by the screen writer of Taxi Driver. 

Watch the trailer here. 

5. Andrei Rublev (1966) 

Andrei Rublev follows a Russian painter in the 15th century, struggling to balance his art and faith in a world that is hostile to his religious beliefs. This mirrors director Andrei Tarkovsky’s own struggles as a Christian director trying to express his beliefs about Christianity in the Soviet Union. Tarkovsky uses Rublev as a surrogate to express his own confusions and shortcomings as a Christian, his frustrations with the Soviet Union as well as parallels between the past and the present, and to show how ignorance leads to religious oppression. 

Watch the trailer here.