While the 2014 film "Noah," starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, makes clear that it's merely "inspired by" the Biblical story, there was still an outpouring of concern and anger from those sensitive to the source material. Even before "Noah" hit theaters, it was banned in several Middle Eastern countries for contradicting the teachings of Islam with its portrayal of a prophet. The CNN original series "Finding Jesus" premieres Sunday, March 1, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
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Monty Python's "Life of Brian" (1979): This British satire has become a staple of the Monty Python canon. The film drew accusations of blasphemy and protests from religious groups upon its release. It was banned from some parts of the United Kingdom, and some countries entirely, for decades. In typical Monty Python fashion, the filmmakers used the negative attention to assist their marketing campaign. It must have helped, as "'Life of Brian" became a box office success.
"The Passion of the Christ" (2004): The Mel Gibson-directed drama caused a box office firestorm when it hit theaters. The film depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus' life and draws on various accounts to do so. The financial success drew criticism for its gruesome violence as well as from Catholic Church groups over the authenticity of the non-biblical material it drew upon. Some upset parties felt that Gibson deliberately departed from biblical accounts of Christ's crucifixion.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Son of God" (2014): The continuation of "The Bible" miniseries became a box office success in 2014, but not without getting audiences hot and bothered. The film cut out scenes featuring the character of Satan in response to negative buzz surrounding the actor's striking resemblance to President Barack Obama. Also, many were worked up about the attractive actor portraying Jesus. Some viewers weren't ready for #HotJesus.
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"Jesus Christ Superstar" (1973): Based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice opera of the same name, the film adaptation starring Ted Neeley hit theaters amid a flurry of criticism. Jewish groups called it anti-Semitic for its emphasis on the role of the Jews in the death of Jesus. Some Catholics and Protestants felt the story was blasphemous for portraying Jesus as being even remotely interested in sex.
"The Nativity Story" (2006): Mary, the teen mom? "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke took a shot at retelling the birth of Jesus in this film, starring Keisha Castle-Hughes. Hughes received an Oscar nomination for her debut role in 2002's "Whale Rider" and seemed like a perfect fit as the Virgin Mary. But the film hit a public snag when it was revealed that the then-16-year-old became pregnant out of wedlock.
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"The Robe" (1953): Richard Burton stars in this drama, which won two Oscars and became the only biblical epic with a sequel. Best known as the first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope, the tale of a fictional Roman tribune who commands the unit that crucifies Jesus is filled with just that: fiction. Despite being rooted in the Bible, the story itself is original and includes a number of historical inaccuracies.
20th Century Fox
"The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988): Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' 1953 novel ruffled feathers upon its release, to say the least. The film, starring Willem Dafoe, includes a disclaimer explaining that it is not based on the biblical gospels and veers far from the biblical portrayal of Jesus' life. Several Christian fundamentalist groups organized protests and boycotts of the film, convincing some movie chains not to show the film. Multiple countries banned the film at the time, and a few still do.
"King David" (1985): From "American Gigolo" to the Bible. This drama follows the life of David and was panned by critics mostly for the casting of Richard Gere in the starring role. Gere was hot off his acclaimed performance in "An Officer and a Gentleman" when he took the role, which marked one of the actor's big early career mishaps.
"The Prince of Egypt" (1998): The animated hit grossed more than $200 million worldwide and went on to win an Academy Award, but that didn't come without its share of controversy. The well-received flick was banned in the Maldives and Malaysia, where the population is predominantly Muslim. Moses is considered an Islamic prophet, and the depiction of such figures is forbidden in Islam.