On March 30, 2018, the biblical drama "Mary Magdalene" starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix arrives in theaters. The films tells the story of Jesus' companion and follower, Mary Magdalene, who served him throughout his adult life and even after his death. In honor of the film's release, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at the best biblical movies of all time. Keep reading to see which holy adaptations made it on our list…
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"The Passion of the Christ"
The 2004 Oscar-nominated drama "The Passion of the Christ" stars Jim Caviezel in a vividly depicted story of Jesus' last 12 hours of life, including his crucifixion. The film was written and directed by Mel Gibson, who's reportedly working on a sequel.
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"Paul, Apostle of Christ"
Jim Caviezel makes a return to the biblical stage in 2018's "Paul, Apostle of Christ." In the drama, Jim plays the apostle Luke alongside James Faulkner as the title character, who was once a persecutor of Christians but, through a miraculous conversion, became one of Jesus' most ardent followers.
"The Ten Commandments"
Charlton Heston (seen here) and Yul Brynner star in the 1956 adventure drama "The Ten Commandments." The Oscar-winning film is a powerful retelling of biblical Moses, a Hebrew baby adopted by an Egyptian princess and raised as royalty who later learns his true heritage and divine purpose to lead his people out of Egypt.
"The Prince of Egypt"
The 1998 animated film "The Prince of Egypt" was DreamWorks' second-ever film project and one that gave fans a new look at the story of Moses' story as told in the Book of Exodus. The cartoon musical adventure, which features the voices of Val Kilmer and Ralph Fiennes, was nominated for numerous awards including a Golden Globe and two Oscars. (It won the Academy Award for best original song for "When You Believe.")
Although many consider the Charlton Heston-led drama "Ben-Hur" the original, it was actually a remake of a version released in 1925, which was a remake of another movie from 1907. The 1959 film tells the story of an enslaved Palestinian-Jewish prince (Judah Ben-Hur) who seeks revenge on the man who betrayed him. Ben-Hur also meets and is inspired by Jesus of Nazareth, who was alive during the same time. Although the story is not technically biblical, the 1880 novel that inspired it was heavily influenced by the Christian faith and is seen as an allegory for Jesus' life on Earth.
In 2016, Hollywood took another stab at "Ben-Hur," this time with Toby Kebbell and Jack Huston in the leading roles. Although the film featured more vivid action sequences (thanks to CGI technology), it wasn't as widely acclaimed as the 1959 version. Still, it was an exciting re-imagination of this Christianity-inspired story of faith and freedom.
"The Nativity Story"
We were as surprised as anyone to find that one of our favorite Hollywood hunks, Oscar Isaac, was in this 2006 biblical film long before he was a leading man in blockbusters like "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." The movie, "The Nativity Story," also stars Keisha Castle-Hughes (from "Whale Rider" and "Game of Thrones") in a tale about the journey of Mary and Joseph as they travel to Bethlehem in search of shelter before the birth of Jesus.
In 2014, Russell Crowe starred in the title role in the action-drama "Noah" — the biblical story of a man who is chosen by God to build a massive ark and save his family as well as two of every animal on Earth before torrential floods wipe out civilization. The movie also co-starred Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson.
One of two comedies to make it on our list is 2007's "Evan Almighty," which is a loose retelling of the Genesis story of Noah and his ark. In the film, Steve Carell plays Evan Baxter, a congressman who's called upon by God to build a massive ship to house his family and a fraction of all the animals on Earth. Morgan Freeman reprises his role as God from the earlier film "Bruce Almighty."
"Exodus: Gods and Kings"
Joel Edgerton (left) and Christian Bale (right) star in the 2014 action-drama "Exodus: Gods and Kings," which is another take on the story of Moses from the Book of Exodus. In the film, Christian plays Moses, the Hebrew baby found by an Egyptian princess who's raised in the royal court. Joel plays adopted Moses' brother, Ramses II, who becomes his greatest enemy when Moses attempts to free the kingdom's Hebrew slaves.
"Mary, Mother of Jesus"
"Exodus" wasn't Christian Bale's first biblical movie. In 1999, he starred in the made-for-TV film "Mary, Mother of Jesus," which is about the early life of Jesus' mom. The movie explored the difficulties Mary had as an unwed mother-to-be in a time when pregnancy out of wedlock was considered a crime punishable by death.
"The Last Temptation of Christ"
Willem Dafoe stars as Jesus in the 1988 Martin Scorsese-directed drama "The Last Temptation of Christ." The Oscar-nominated film was one of Martin's greatest passion projects and detailed the early life of Jesus through his arrest and crucifixion.
In the 2016 adventure-drama "Risen," Joseph Fiennes stars as Clavius, a Roman soldier tasked with finding the missing body of Jesus Christ. The film is a retelling of Jesus' resurrection from the perspective of a non-believer who discovers that what's impossible may just be what's true.
"The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John"
In the 2003 Canadian historical drama "The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John," Christopher Plummer (not shown) narrates the story of Jesus' (played by Henry Ian Cusick, center) life as it was told by his apostle John (played by Stuart Bunce, right). The film explores the last three years of Jesus' life and his relationship with his apostles.
"The Greatest Story Ever Told"
In the epic 1965 drama "The Greatest Story Ever Told," Max von Sydow stars as Jesus, a traveling preacher revealed to be the son of God, a man able to perform miracles. The film earned a staggering five Oscar nominations and was hailed by critics at the time as "stunningly rendered" and "a monumental film."
In 2017, the famous biblical tale of Jesus' birth was retold in the animated action-comedy film "The Star." Featuring the voices of Steve Yeun, Gina Rodriguez, Oprah Winfrey, Keegan-Michael Key and Ving Rhames, the nativity story was re-imagined through the eyes of the animals closest to Joseph, Mary and Jesus.
"Jesus Christ Superstar"
The 1973 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Broadway rock 'n' roll opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" is impossible to leave off our list. Told mainly through the eyes of Judas Iscariot — the apostle who would eventually betray Jesus — the film, like the Broadway production, made a strong impression on audiences. Not only does it feature the familiar story of Jesus' last week on Earth, but its catchy soundtrack earned it an Oscar nomination for best scoring. Cool fact: On April 1, 2018, "Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert" arrives on the small screen in a made-for-TV musical production starring John Legend, Alice Cooper and more.
Back in 1985, hunky leading man Richard Gere dabbled in biblical retellings with the drama "King David." The movie is based on the Old Testament account of David, who was secretly anointed by Saul as the king of Israel.
"Son of God"
In the 2014 historical drama "Son of God," Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus during his last years on Earth. The film covers his miraculous birth and follows him through adulthood to his crucifixion. Roma Downey from "Touched By an Angel" stars as Jesus' mother, Mary, and also served as a producer on the film.
In the 2018 action-drama "Samson," Caitlin Leahy and Taylor James star as the ill-fated biblical lovers Samson and Delilah from the Book of Judges. Samson is chosen by God to be his hand upon Earth with supernatural strength that no man can defeat. That changes when a seductress named Delilah tricks Samson into loving her before she ultimately betrays him.
Speaking of betrayal, there's no biblical backstabbing story more famous than that of Judas Iscariot. In the 2004 TV movie "Judas," Johnathon Schaech portrays Judas, an apostle of Jesus who, after developing a close friendship with the savior, ultimately betrays him with the conviction that he's doing so to save his people.
"One Night with the King"
The inspiring biblical story of Esther is retold in the 2006 historical drama "One Night with the King." Starring Tiffany Dupont as Queen Esther, a young Jewish woman born to slaves who rises to become the queen consort of Persia, the movie is a beautiful retelling of her courage to save her people from genocide at the risk of her own life.