Today is Easter, the day Christians celebrate the defeat of death and the beginning of the end of this curse we bear. More than ever, with the specter of terrorism and war hanging over the world, death seems ascendant, but Easter is a reminder that darkness is defeated.
Reasonably enough, this most powerful truth echoes through the imagination of men redeemed and rebellious. Common grace manifests in our stories, revealing the power of sacrificial love, obedience to death, and life springing up from the ashes. While not all the films I list here involve literal resurrection (or even literal death), the theme here is of sacrifice, of the via dolorosa.
10. High Noon
No list is complete without a Western. This is the tale of Will Kane, a lone sheriff abandoned by his peers to face the enemy alone. A taut piece of film-making about a man committed to his duty.
"Kane will be a dead man in half an hour and nobody's gonna do anything about it."
9. Pan's Labyrinth
Definitely the only entry in the horror genre, this moody fantasy film offers a glimpse of redemption in a grim world.
"Arise, my daughter."
Ikiru is the story of a man already dead. A businessman facing constant drudgery, he discovers the power of love to renew his broken life.
"Life is so short
Fall in love, dear maiden
While your lips are still red
And before you are cold,
For there will be no tomorrow."
7. The Mission
The tale of two priests in the Ecuadorian jungle, The Mission mixes atmospheric visuals, heartrending music, and a powerful story of living out the Gospel in the face of adversity.
"But in truth it is I who am dead, and they who live."
6. The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings features a few of these moments, but the most dramatic and indeed eucatastrophic is in the second installment, The Two Towers.
"I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide."
5. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
“You have a traitor there, Aslan," said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he'd been through and after the talk he'd had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn't seem to matter what the Witch said.
4. Les Misérables
The Gospel in miniature, it's the tale of a broken man and his quarry: Jean Valjean.
"They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord
They will walk behind the plowshare, they will put away the sword
The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward."
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
"'The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death'…" A horrible thought came to him, and with it a kind of panic. "Isn't that a Death Eater idea? Why is that there?"
"It doesn't mean defeating death in the way the Death Eaters mean it, Harry," said Hermione, her voice gentle. "It means… you know… living beyond death. Living after death."
2. A Tale of Two Cities
Ronald Colman and Dirk Bogarde versions pack a powerful punch.
"I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out."
Definitely, for me, the ultimate resurrection movie, this entire film centers on a small family and their various approaches to faith - from mad prophecies to clinical skepticism.
"He is still the God of old — the God of Elijah — eternal and the same."