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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Apr 18, 2019


TIMES have really changed. When we were young, businesses closed down to observe the solemnity of Holy Week. They open again only on Easter Sunday. But there’s no such thing anymore. Some malls, supermarkets, even cinemas are now in operation even during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The ultimate goal of people is not to reflect and do introspection but to go away to some distant place for a grand vacation to unwind. If it happens that there’s a church to wherever they’re going, then they drop by and probably even say a prayer or two.

Local film companies in the 50s and 60s would come up then with special Lenten offerings for Holy Week, like “Kalbaryo ni Hesus” (1952) and the movies based on the lives of saints like “Santa Lucia” starring Edna Luna, “Santa Rita de Casia” with Rosemarie Gil, “Marcelino Pan y Vino” with Danilo Jurado. Other film companies came up with omnibus films like “Limang Misteryo ng Krus”, “Pitong Pagsisisi”, “Pitong Makasalanan”.

Now, there are still faith-based film but they’re mostly American, not Hollywood, mind you, like the current "Breakthrough". Of course, you can still watch the classic Biblical films like “The Bible”, “King of Kings”, “The Passion of the Christ”, “The Silver Chalice”, “Ben Hur” (watch the original, not the more recent remake), “Quo Vadis” and the like, but there is now an entire library of films about being a Christian that is set in more modern times. If, in keeping with the season, you want to watch some meaningful films about faith, here’s what we recommend:

“Breathe” - 2017. This was shown in SM but nobody noticed it. It’s the true story of Robin Cavendish (played by Andrew Garfield) who gets stricken with polio when he’s 28, just after marrying his wife, Diana (Claire Foy.) Paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe without a respirator, he’s given only a couple of months to live. He gets so depressed and won’t even see his wife and their newborn son, but his wife is persistent and brings him home, then personally takes care of him. What happens next amazes even those who predicted he wouldn’t last very long.

“God’s Not Dead” - 2014 - This is based on Rice Brooks’ boo, “God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty”. It is a about college student (Shane Harper), a Christian, whose faith is challenged by his philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo, who played Hercules) who thinks God is fiction and threatens to fail him. But he stands up to his professor even if it would jeopardize his academic future. Of course, it got negative reviews from film critics who are easily turned off by anything that sounds preaching for them. But it was so successful. Made for a budget of only $2 million, it grossed over $62 million and produced two sequels: “God’s Not Dead 2” and “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness”. We’ve seen Part 2 and it’s also very good, but we haven’t seen the last one which was released last year.

There are other faith-based films you can check out, like “The Shack” (2017), based on the book by William Young and starring Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer; “Miracles from Heaven” (2016), about a sick girl who fell from a tree and has visions of heaven, with Jennifer Garner; “Heaven is for Real” (2014), starring Greg Kinnear as a man whose 4-year old son experiences during an emergency surgery; “First Reformed” (2018), inspired by the acclaimed French film “Diary of a Country Priest” starring Ethan Hawke as a small town pastor in upstate New York who is experiencing a personal crisis caused by tragedy, worldly concerns and a problematic past.

Happy watching and here’s praying you will all have a truly meaningful Holy Week that will help make a good person, a good Christian.