The Vatican Film Guide

In 1995, for the hundredth anniversary of the motion picture, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications issued a list of forty-five films which possessing special religious, artistic, or moral worth.

One is expected to watch these movies as an intelligent, mature adult who can think critically and sort out the good from the bad in them. No film is perfect, even in its principal category, and so not everything in these films is endorsed.

In particular, the religious ideas contained in the films listed under “Art” or “Values” are not endorsed (if the religious ideas in it were endorsed, it would be in the “Religion” category, and even those in that category are not meant to be taken as perfect in everything).

Similarly, not all the moral ideas presented in the “Art” films are endorsed; these films were included because they were landmarks in the art of cinematography, not because of religious or moral values.

Likewise, the films listed under “Values” make one moral point particularly well, though other moral ideas or religious ideas in them are not endorsed.

Dubbed or subtitled versions for almost all of the foreign films are available for English speakers, and you will be surprised how many of them the major American video chains will have in stock.

So, what would you like to watch tonight?

(Links are provided to the Internet Movie Database.)

Religion

La Passion–Ferdinand Zecca (France, 1903)
The Passion of Joan of Arc–Carl Dreyer (France, 1928)
Monsieur Vincent–Maurice Cloche (France, 1947)
Flowers of St. Francis–Roberto Rossellini (Italy, 1950)
Ordet/The World–Carl Dreyer (Denmark, 1955)
Ben-Hur–William Wyler (United States, 1959)
Nazarin–Luis Bunuel (Mexico, 1959)
The Gospel According to St. Mathew–Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy, 1964)
A Man for All Seasons–Fred Zinnemann (Britain, 1966)
Andrei Rublev–Andrei Tarkovsky (USSR, 1966)
The Sacrifice–Andrei Tarkovsky (Sweden/France, 1986)
The Mission–Roland Joffe (Britain, 1986)
Babette’s Feast–Gabriel Axel (Denmark, 1987)
Francesco–Liliana Cavani (Italy, 1988)

Art

Nosferatu–F. W. Murnau (Germany, 1922)
Metropolis–Fritz Lang (Germany, 1927)
Napoleon–Abel Gance (France, 1927)
Little Women–George Cukor (United States, 1933)
Modern Times–Charles Chaplain (United States, 1936)
Grand Illusion–Jean Renoir (France, 1937)
Stagecoach–John Ford (United States, 1939)
The Wizard of Oz–Victor Fleming (United States, 1939)
Fantasia–Walt Disney (United States, 1940)
Citizen Kane–Orson Welles (United States, 1941)
The Lavendar Hill Mob–Charles Chrichton (Britain, 1951)
La Strada–Federico Fellini (Italy, 1954)
8 1/2–Federico Fellini (Italy, 1963)
The Leopard–Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1963)
2001: A Space Oddessy–Stanley Kubrick (Britain, 1968)

Values

Intolerance–D. W. Giffith (United States, 1916)
Open City–Roberto Rossellini (Italy, 1945)
It’s a Wonderful Life–Frank Capra (United States, 1947)
The Bicycle Thief–Vittorio Di Sica (Italy, 1948)
On the Waterfront–Elia Kazan (United States, 1954)
The Burmese Harp–Kon Ichikawa (Japan, 1956)
Wild Strawberries–Ingmar Bergman (Sweden, 1957)
The Seventh Seal–Ingmar Bergman (Sweden, 1957)
Dersu Uzala–Akira Kurosawa (USSR/Japan, 1975)
The Tree of Wooden Clogs–Ermanno Olmi (Italy, 1978)
Chariots of Fire–Hugh Hudson (Britain, 1981)
Gandhi–Richard Attenborough (Britain, 1982)
Au Revoir les Enfants–Louis Malle (France, 1987)
Dekalog–Krzystof Kieslowski (Poland, 1988) NOTE: this is a series of 10 one hour specials; the link is to the first in the series.
Schindler’s List–Steven Spielberg (United States, 1993)

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