Easter isn't a holiday that gets a lot of cinematic love. But there are a few films in our library that really get us in the mood for egg hunts, marshmallow Peeps, and a good dose of love for our fellow man.
What It’s About: In this lavish musical, Broadway star Don Hewes’ (Fred Astaire) dancing partner (Ann Miller) goes solo, and Don declares that he can make a hit performer out of the next dancer he sees. This turns out to be the inexperienced Hannah (Ju, who bristles as Don tries to make her into his old partner. But as he realizes that he is falling in love with Hannah, Don knows that he must let her grow into her own kind of dancer if he wants her to reach her full potential.
Who’s In It: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Peter Lawford, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Clinton Sundberg, Richard Beavers, Jeni Le Gon
Why You Should Watch: Arguably Judy Garland’s most successful film ever (and it was her highest-grossing), it features some of Garland’s most memorable moments, including one not seen until decades later. The scene featured Garland in an outfit that became something of a trademark, that being a black tuxedo coat, nylons, and a fedora. We particularly love the moment where the penultimate and title song comes in at the climax of the film.
What It’s About: Peter Rabbit and his three sisters — Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail — enjoy spending their days in Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden. When one of McGregor’s relatives suddenly moves in, he’s less than thrilled to discover a family of rabbits in his new home. A battle of wills soon breaks out as the new owner hatches scheme after scheme to get rid of Peter — a resourceful rabbit who proves to be a worthy and wily opponent.
Who’s In It: James Corden, Fayssal Bazzi, Domhnall Gleeson, Sia , Colin Moody, Sam Neill, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki
Why You Should Watch: Based on the classic children’s story book, with a modern twist, this movie basically everything we could want. It’s funny, whimsical, and has plenty of heart. It also has rabbits, and we definitely think they fit our Easter theme.
Jesus Christ Superstar
What It’s About: Adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Broadway rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar” recounts the last days of Jesus Christ (Ted Neeley) from the perspective of Judas Iscariot (Carl Anderson), his betrayer. As Jesus’ following increases, Judas begins to worry that Jesus is falling for his own hype, forgetting the principles of his teachings and growing too close to the prostitute Mary Magdalene (Yvonne Elliman). After Jesus has an outburst in a temple, Judas turns on him.
Who’s In It: Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Bob Bingham, Larry Marshall, Josh Mostel, Kurt Yahgiian
Why You Should Watch: We. Love. Musicals. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, and this one is no different. Webber’s music is iconic, and in particular, this musical fits perfectly into the story of Easter with the relationship between Jesus and Judas explored in sing-song fashion that serves the story far more than demeans it. It’s full of emotional, captivating music, and if you ever get the chance to see it live, RUN, don’t walk, to the box office!
The First Easter Rabbit
What It’s About: Loosely based on the classic book The Velveteen Rabbit, this Rankin/Bass Television Special tells the story of how a plush, stuffed bunny named Stuffy becomes the very first Easter Rabbit. In his journey, he gets a little help from Santa Claus, and must outsmart the villainous Zero, who’s bent on turning Easter Valley from a place of eternal spring to a frozen wasteland.
Who’s In It: Burl Ives, Paul Frees, Robert Morse
Why You Should Watch: Ok, so this ISN’T a movie, BUT, it does serve as a very loose follow-up to the classic animated Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, exploring the origins of the Easter Bunny and the egg-filled, basket-giving tradition. It’s a sweet, simple story with tons of heart, and just reminds us of the simpler time of childhood.
What It’s About: Charlton Heston plays a Palestinian Jew who is battling the Roman empire at the time of Christ. His actions send him and his family into slavery, but an inspirational encounter with Jesus changes everything. Heston finally meets his rival in a justly famous chariot race and rescues his suffering family.
Who’s In It: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Sam Jaffe, Cathy O’Donnell
Why You Should Watch: This Hollywood classic coincides with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, so naturally it made the list. It also features one of the most expensive, dangerous, and incredible stunts of the time: The Chariot Race. It took more than five weeks to film and cost over $1 million dollars. If you look closely, you can see the explosive units used to create the chariot accidents.
Rise of the Guardians
What It’s About: Generation after generation, immortal Guardians like Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) protect the world’s children from darkness and despair. However, an evil boogeyman named Pitch Black (Jude Law) schemes to overthrow the Guardians by obliterating children’s belief in them. It falls to a winter sprite named Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to thwart Pitch’s plans and save the Guardians from destruction.
Who’s In It: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Khamani Griffin, Jacob Bertrand
Why You Should Watch: Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the Tooth Fairy, Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman were super heroes? Well, wonder no longer! Sometimes dark, but always exciting, this is one of our favorite animated films ever. It’s delightfully funny, brilliantly acted, and tells as story that speaks to the child inside us all.
What It’s About: Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) is a wealthy drunk who starts having visions of a giant rabbit named Harvey. Elwood lives with his sister Veta (Josephine Hull) and her daughter (Victoria Horne), and Veta worries that Elwood has gone insane. In the process of trying to have him committed, Veta admits that she occasionally sees Harvey herself. The director of the mental home, Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway), tries to reconcile his duty to help Elwood with his own growing experiences with Harvey.
Who’s In It: James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Cecil Kellaway, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake, Victoria Horne, Jesse White, William Lynn
Why You Should Watch: Jimmy Stewart is one of the most well-known actors in Hollywood history, and we love him in everything from It’s A Wonderful Life to Vertigo. Here, he does a masterful job of acting beside a non-existent character, making the scenes not only believable, but also serving as inspiration for future actors in films like Mary Poppins and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The Passion of the Christ
What It’s About: In this version of Christ’s crucifixion, based on the New Testament, Judas expedites the downfall of Jesus (Jim Caviezel) by handing him over to the Roman Empire’s handpicked officials. To the horror of his mother, Mary (Maia Morgenstern), Magdalen (Monica Bellucci), whom he saved from damnation, and his disciples, Jesus is condemned to death. He is tortured as he drags a crucifix to nearby Calvary, where he is nailed to the cross. He dies, but not before a last act of grace.
Who’s In It: Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Claudia Gerini, Maia Morgenstern, Sergio Rubini, Toni Bertorelli, Roberto Bestazzoni, Francesco Cabras
Why You Should Watch: This is definitely a tough watch, but is a lavish, beautiful, and heart-rending adaptation of one of the most well-known stories in the world. Jim Caviezel is captivating in the role of Jesus Christ, and the entire film plays out in with dialogue spoken entirely in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin. It’s a film that both shocks and inspires, and speaks to many of the core beliefs surrounding the Easter holiday.
Do you have a fave film that makes you "hoppy" during the Easter holiday? Share it with us!