What mainstream movies invoke Christological themes that you have enjoyed

Looking at movies (and other entertainment venues if you wish), it seems that Christological themes are often used. What have you seen that has affected you from popular culture?
I would guess the prototypical example is Superman. Coming from the heavens, raised by foster parents, sacrificing his self interest for the good of humanity, super-powers and all that. Interestingly, as a kid I always found Batman more relatable, being a normal human with all the angst, but accomplishing his good works through technology and smarts. Not sure what that says about me, but interesting to contemplate.

I think a lot of superhero movies could fall into that category, especially some of the Avengers movies.

Several of director M. Night Shyamalan’s earlier movies had some clear religious themes to them, like Signs or The Village. Probably Unbreakable is the most Christological, but I appreciated the way The Village seems to portray legalism and fear that can also accompany religion.

No question whatsoever.

Gran Torino

(Note that it doesn’t fit in our North American popular Christian movie standard as “family friendly.”)

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Oh, and Les Miserables, since I’m listening to it this morning. I prefer the Broadway soundtrack, but the movie was still pretty good. So many themes about grace vs. law, compassion, forgiveness, etc., especially in the interplay between Valjean and Javert.


Life of Pi had religious themes, not specifically Christian, but dealt with how we handle evil and moral issues, particularly in times of trial. I enjoyed the book more than the movie, but the movie was good also (though I had to explain it a bit to the folks who saw it with us who had not read the book)


how about Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings? JK Rowling admitted to a strong Christian background, and both Potter and Dumbledore have Messianic / self-sacrificing aspects. Lord of the Rings also apparently has a book written about Christian themes in it. there probably are Pagan themes in it as well though.


Another movie not narrowly Christian but very much invoking the teachings of Jesus would be Ghandi.


How many movies invoke an image of crucifixion? One that comes to mind is Charlton Heston’s death in “The Omega Man”. There is probably a term for this in the director’s lexicon.

People here seem to be equating “Christological” with “Christian,” but this word is derived from Christology, which from Wikipedia means…

Christology (from Greek Χριστός Khristós and -λογία, -logia), literally “the understanding of Christ,” is the study of the nature (person) and work (role in salvation) of Jesus Christ. It studies Jesus Christ’s humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two aspects; and the role he plays in salvation.

I would be hard pressed to come up with a movie which addresses any of that stuff head on. Closest I get in a recent movie is “Lucy” which seems to suggest a man (or rather woman) become God theology (transcending space and time in the end as she does). And then there is “Stigmata” which has an atheist woman experiencing the wounds of Christ, though the whole movie is ultimately a plug for the Gospel of Thomas. Or if what you want is a film/book exploring the messianic myth then I would suggest “Dune.”

But for a film to be really “Christological” it has to be about Jesus Himself, questioning the nature of this actual person. And that brings us to… “The Last Temptation of Christ.” The ironic contrast which the film makes between the supposed historical person and what he has become in Christian theology definitely makes this a film with a Christological theme.

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Yup. I’m still going with Gran Torino.

Associating and identifying with “the other,” exposing the uselessness of institutionalized religion, and self-giving ultimate sacrifice for the rescue of the helpless.

True Mitchell. I am sure I used the wrong word, but will just go with it for the purpose of the post.


This is a bit off topic, so please feel free to let me know if I should put it under a different thread, but John Patrick has a list of Biblical allusions in literature and what used to be common speech (which could translate to movies) here. https://www.johnpatrick.ca/meaning-metaphor-and-allusion/
Many are out of use now, and we would never recognize them. However, one that struck me was “And if not…”. It was used by the British troops who were encircled by Germans in Dunkirk as a message back home. This was the quote from the Hebrew young men when the king was going to throw them into the blazing furnace for not worsihiping his idol–“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). https://www.military-quotes.com/forum/but-if-not-t2911.html

The British public knew what it meant, and apparently many civilian boatmen volunteered to help them across the Channel, along with others…

I’m not sure if that story got into the move, “Dunkirk,” though. …and that was OT, not Christ, imagery. Sorry!


For me, the Star Wars films say a lot about the Christ Archetype. They talk about redemption: figuring out how powerful “the Force” is, and then deciding how you’re going to use your Free Will to handle “the Force.” Films that feature forgiveness also speak to me about the Christ Archetype. There aren’t as many of those, though, because revenge movies are all about justice without forgiveness.

In Star Wars, Anakin can’t forgive himself, so he goes to the Dark side. Luke forgives his father, which allows Anakin to finally forgive himself and experience redemption. Then Luke can’t forgive himself until Rey comes along, but then he reclaims his courage and love.

I also see Christological themes in “Groundhog Day” (true humbleness and gratitude, knowing oneself and using one’s gifts in service to others, love of neighbour, love of self, acceptance of God’s wisdom, patience, turning the lemons of pain into the lemonade of joy). Plus it’s a feel-good movie!

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The classic example is Babette’s Feast. The whole movie is a picture of grace being poured out on the undeserving people who cannot even begin to fathom all that they have received.


My first [and only … till now] exposure to that story was through one of Yancey’s books (probably “What’s so Amazing about Grace”). And it was moving even just hearing of it 2nd hand like that. I didn’t know it was a movie. Will have to check into that.


First obvious answer that comes to my mind is E.T. It’s very much an archetypal Christ story:
E.T. comes to earth, makes a small group of friends, performs miracles (flying on the bicycles, bringing the houseplant back to life), gets tormented — and ultimately killed — by the powers-that-be, comes back to life, and re-ascends to the heavens.
Pretty potent storytelling.


Indeed! E.T. phone home.

I think I recall hearing that Spielberg refused to produce any movies that portray aliens in an evil or threatening light (e.g. ‘Independence Day’, ‘Men in Black’, or ‘Alien’ types of productions). One can only hope that if we are to ever behold any such encounter, it’s a “Spielberg” type alien and not one of the other fare! But it would seem that the vastness of the universe ensures that such encounters will remain in the domain of our vivid imaginations.

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This is an improvement over the biblical version for my money. As a non-Christian who is favorably disposed toward religious experience but skeptical toward all things supernatural I like seeing the story embedded in the natural world where mysterious things are relative to our perspective and capacities rather than categorically so.

“Embedded in the natural world” is the core concept of the whole incarnation!

That stories continue to echo this speaks to the depth of that event and its significance to us.

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Well for the resurrection part, yes. But cosmologically, isn’t Christianity committed to the natural world being subsidiary to the supernatural, that the natural world would never have emerged from nothing without supernatural invention? I know natural processes such as evolution can be made compatible with good Christian theology, but origins still seem to be dependent upon that which is not natural. Even for the resurrection part I personally am more comfortable with a symbolic meaning.

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