Where are all the Easter films?
A few years back, there was a brilliant story in the papers describing how Somerfield, the British supermarket chain, had expressed weary surprise at how few children understood the true meaning of Easter. The press release went on — oddly …
A few years back, there was a brilliant story in the papers describing how Somerfield, the British supermarket chain, had expressed weary surprise at how few children understood the true meaning of Easter. The press release went on — oddly for a firm that makes a fortune flogging Rolo Eggs — to bemoan the fact that these cretinous hoodies didn’t even grasp that the festival was a celebration of the the “birth of Christ”. Har, har!
What morons! Ha! Easter is, of course, really about consuming enormous chocolate rabbits, watching vast amounts of sport and enjoying all the great Easter-themed films that Hollywood has provided down through the years. Like, er, um… Oh, you know.
If the Churches want to confirm that Easter has not been entirely commercialised they need only observe how few Easter-themed films there are? Following the success of this year’s useless Valentine’s Day, it has been announced that the same team is about to begin work on a flick entitled New Year’s Day. Yet there seems little chance that gang of hooligans will make an Easter Sunday or a Good Friday. Against all the odds and despite the best efforts of Messrs Rowntree and Cadbury, the festival somehow remains focussed on religious mumbo-jumbo.
There is, of course, the 1948 musical Easter Parade. The picture features a few top-notch Irving Berlin tunes — the title theme and A Couple of Swells in particular — but nobody is likely to prefer this middling Judy Garland piece to, say, Meet Me in Saint Louis or A Star is Born.
And, of course, there is Mel Gibson’s The Passion. You may not like the underlying (indeed overlying) sense of religious mania, but you do have to admit it’s a very well-made film. It is, however, not really an Easter film in the way that It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas film. Ask anybody about his or her favourite Christmas movie scene and very few will mention a Nativity sequence from a biopic of J Christ. When we think of a Christmas film we tend to ponder the event as it has been celebrated in recent centuries, not (to use a phrase from superhero lexicon) the festival’s origin myth.
You could, I suppose, claim The Long Good Friday. It’s one of the very best British gangster movies, but it could have been set at any time of the year. So that doesn’t really cut it either.
I find myself reduced to considering the best Easter scene. Happily, that offers no great challenge. It has to be the sequence in Annie Hall in which the titular scatterbrain invites her conspicuously Jewish boyfriend to a terrifyingly Caucasian ham dinner at Easter. The significance is not lost on him. Enjoy…