Its Easter! And whether you are in it for the chocolate, the roast dinner or the religious significance, we are here to help you celebrate. With five great family films that scream Easter in all its spring bound wonder. From the Easter Bunny to religious epics and the indulgence of chocolate, these films have Easter written all of them. So sit back with your family alongside a giant chocolate egg as big as your head, and enjoy our pick of five essential Easter movies. All of which are available right now on streaming platforms, Blu Ray and DVD.
1. Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Based on the William Joyce book series ‘The Guardians of Childhood’ this 2012 animated feature is a highly underrated treasure. With many critics of the time not fully appreciating the sheer imagination and fun Rise of the Guardians offered. However, despite this, it has gone on to achieve a dedicated fan base. With a narrative that brings together Jack Frost, Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny in fighting the world domination plans of the evil ‘Pitch’.
This is a film that sings with creativity while appealing to children and adults alike. With an almost Avengers-style feel to the action that ensues. And when you add to the mix the voice work of Chris Pine, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman and Isla Fisher, Rise of the Guardians becomes a perfect Easter Sunday treat.
Director: Peter Ramsey
2. Easter Parade (1948)
Why not relax in your favourite chair and travel back to the bygone era of MGM musicals with 1948s Easter Parade. Allowing Fred Astaire, Ann Miller and Judy Garland to step from the screen into your living room in one of the finest musicals of the late 1940s. While the music of Irvin Berlin will ensure every family member is tapping their feet in appreciation by the end. As the simple yet endearing story of dancing partners and love transports you to back the golden age of MGM. With its glorious finale taking you to New York’s Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday in a sea of blazing technicolour.
Director: Charles Walters
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Roald Dahl’s classic book has not yet found a better adaptation than Mel Stuart’s 1971 film. Combining the artistry of the Wizard of Oz with a delightful, dark and humorous film that exudes love for the source material. Financed by the Quaker Oats Company, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory achieves what few Disney family film’s of the period could. In treating its target audience of children with intelligence. While equally embracing the darker tones of childhood imagination and wonder. Ultimately creating one of the most beautiful children’s movies ever produced. But its Gene Wilder who truly steals the show; embodying the light and dark of Roald Dahl’s famous chocolatier with a performance never equalled or matched.
Director: Mel Stuart
4. Ben-Hur (1959)
While musicals and thrillers dominated 1950s film, financial pressure was mounting on studios to find new films that could draw a broad cinema audience. As new laws led to the separation of movie theatre chains from the studios who had once owned them. And while MGM continued to release the brightest and best musicals of any studio. They were also failing to rise to the challenge posed by the new medium of television. As it pulled people away from the traditional movie theatre with a mix of entertainment, drama and comedy.
MGM was a studio slowly sinking as Hollywood changed, desperately needing a blockbuster to turn around its finances. And after the commercial success of Paramount’s The Ten Commandments, MGM looked back to its origins in silent film for an answer. With its 1925 adaptation of Ben-Hur ripe for a remake. This decision ultimately led to MGM creating the most expensive film of the 1950s. A film that had blockbuster written all over it, with action scenes that continue to inspire new generations. And while it may seem dated to a modern eye, and at times overly long, Ben-Hur remains a sight to behold to this day. A tour de force from slowly dying studio in a rapidly changing Hollywood.
Director: William Wyler
It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)
No public holiday would be complete without the Peanuts gang. And in this collection of short films made for TV, Easter takes centre stage following on from the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
With Easter just around the corner, Peppermint Pattie and Marcie are busy decorating eggs. While Linus tries to convince the gang that the Easter Beagle is real, despite ridicule from the rest of the kids. And as for Snoopy, he is busy buying a spring birdhouse for Woodstock as Lucy sets up her own easter egg hunt.
As with all the previous Charlie Brown and Peanuts specials, the Easter Beagle is both fun and deliciously sweet. Wrapping its Easter tale in intelligent comedy that will appeal to young and old alike. And while it may not be as strong as the specials proceeding it, this is still a classic Peanuts outing.
Director: Phil Roman
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory also appears in Creative Films for Kids in Quarantine
Peanuts also appears in Comic Book Movies: The Essential Collection