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Five Films for Devout Catholics During the Holy Week (Old School Edition)

Before the days of cable TV (yes, I'm old), local channels used to either totally go off the air from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday. (Honestly, who still uses the word "maundy" these days? Only the old school Catholic Church, that's who.) And if they didn't go off the air, they did air a total Holy Week line-up of religious films that in children's eyes were way too creepy to inspire them to do good.

Here are five that I remember.

Il vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) (1964)

Jesus had the best hairline.

It's black-and-white, as were some TV sets at the time (yes, I'm old). And also, it's regarded as the best cinematic portrayal of Jesus' life. Directed by the famous Pier Paolo Pasolini, the film was actually intended to portray Jesus as the greatest revolutionary of all. Not surprising, considering that Pasolini was an atheist, homosexual, and Marxist. 

The Ten Commandments (1956)

"This film sucked this much."

Ah, fifties Hollywood epics. Great sets + great costumes + thousands of extras + zero CGI = BORING. Good job, Cecil B. DeMille. I remember watching this, noticing that Moses had no beard, falling asleep, waking up with the movie still playing, noticing that Moses had some scruffy facial hair, falling asleep again, waking up with the movie still playing, noticing that Moses already had a beard, falling asleep again, waking up with the movie still playing, giving a sigh of exasperation, and just heading out to play with my friends.

Jesus of Nazareth (1971) 

Kind of looks like a bearded lesbian.

I joined the boy scouts back in grade school, and I remember after seeing that the actor who played Jesus was named Robert Powell, I asked my mother, "The founder of the Boy Scouts played Jesus in a film?" Of course, my mother just looked at me like I was crazy. I was already a smart ass in third grade.

Ben-Hur (1959)

"Um... didn't you guys bring your own food or something?"

Wait, Charlton Heston again? He must really love boring epics. But again, this was before CGI, so you'd be seeing one hell of a chariot race scene. The most annoying thing about this movie, though, was why they never showed Jesus' face. He wasn't that ugly, come on.

Nakausap Ko ang Birhen (1988) 

I couldn't find a pic of Lotlot as Jesus, so here's the next best thing:
a newspaper clipping of the movie poster.

One of the most disturbing religious films I've seen, and it had to be Filipino. Picture this: Lotlot de Leon, dressed as Jesus, carrying a cross. You know, like penitentia. And then a heckler (I think it was Paquito Diaz, I don't remember) asks her, "Gusto mo talaga mag-penitensiya ha?" Then he forces a crown of thorns on her head. Now that was really disturbing. It scarred my childhood. That's why, despite the noticeable deficiency in information that the internet provides on this subject, I can still quote that heckler's line verbatim. There should be a law against letting women play Jesus. I mean, that's why Jesus had a beard.

Ah, thank God for the 21st century. Now we have cable TV, the internet, and Boracay to help us forget about Jesus. If Jesus had Twitter, he'd probably tell all of you to just chill. Oh wait. Jesus is already on Twitter

*pics from pasolini.net, chasness.wordpress.com, Daily Express, MSN Movies, and Movie Marathon


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