Roman military tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) remains set in his ways after serving 25 years in the army. He arrives at a crossroad when he's tasked to investigate the mystery of what happened to Jesus (Cliff Curtis) following the Crucifixion. Accompanied by trusted aide Lucius (Tom Felton), his quest to disprove rumors of a risen Messiah makes him question his own beliefs and spirituality. As his journey takes him to places never dreamed of, Clavius discovers the truth that he's been seeking. (1)
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Director Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Count of Monte Cristo) has put together an entertaining and unique film. The acting was on point, the music score was fitting, and the sets and scenery were beautiful. Risen is told through the eyes of Pontius Pilate's (Peter Firth – Pearl Harbor, Mighty Joe Young) right-hand man Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman tribune who is forced to investigate the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus/Yeshua (Cliff Curtis – Push, Columbiana). Telling the story through the eyes of a non-believer (a pagan considering his belief in the Roman gods) offered depth and so much more to the film because we got to see his transformation and his quest for truth. People, no matter who you are, are always looking for truth. Truth about anything and everything.
Now some viewers may wonder why the movie doesn’t show the trials Jesus pre-crucifixion or all of the post-Resurrection appearances. Simply put, the film is shown through the eyes Clavius so if Clavius did not see it then it was not shown. This does not mean that Reynolds’ production team deny these events, it only means that they were not part of Clavius’ story. I am sure there was a soldier who was charged in dealing with the affairs after Jesus’ Crucifixion, despite Clavius not being mentioned by name in Scripture. Nor is the concept of a manhunt to find Jesus’ body is mentioned in Scripture. However, and this is not always the case, just because the Bible doesn’t mention these events, does not mean that they did not happen. I can only guess that the reason why these events were not put in the Bible is because it was not necessarily needed to know or rather that important; the Bible is not a diary of men, it is Life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In addition, it is quite clear even in Scripture (John 19:1-16) that Pilate and the Jewish leaders/priests, one being Caiaphas (Stephen Greif), would have had plenty of reasons for wanting to find Jesus’ body.
As a result, this storyline is very much possible on many points, and while a few inaccuracies appear throughout this film they do not undermine the message or key biblical doctrines. First, the scene in which the Lord appears to the disciples while Thomas (Jan Cornet – Red Lights) is present occurs 8 days after the Resurrection in the Bible rather than the 4 days mentioned in the film. Second, the portrayal of Mary Magdalene (María Botto) was a bit disappointing, since the filmmakers used the common misconception that she was a former prostitute. While this concept is indeed possible, especially during a time when women had very few option (slavery, marriage or prostitution), the Bible clearly states that Jesus delivered her from seven demons (Luke 8:1-2) and does not mention that she was a prostitute. Finally, one concept, which is often overlooked is the wives of the disciples. Most if not all of the disciples were married, especially Peter whose wife 1 was martyred before him on the same day, and their wives went with them (1 Cor 9:1-5).
The behavior of the disciples can be seen as strange by most viewers but I admire how they were portrayed. The disciples were with Jesus 24/7 for 3 years and yet they still did not understand everything that he did and said (John 12:16) (Luke 9:38-50). Peter (Stewart Scudamore) says he has questions even though he was at Jesus’ side for three years. At this time in their lives they have not been filled with the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17 & 24-26 & 28-29) at Pentecost (Acts 1:1-9), therefore they are filled with grief by the Lord’s Crucifixion and later filled with joy at his Resurrection. Risen admirably shows their mortality in the sense by how they viewed the world before being filled with the Holy Ghost like Jesus when he was baptized (Mark 1:9-12). Joseph Fiennes (Hercules, Elizabeth) plays the Roman Tribune Clavius with realism, integrity, and sincerity that easily connect with viewers. He wordlessly asks the questions, how does a logical man deal when radical confrontations challenge his life? When do you surrender to faith even when the ‘rationality’ of the world suggests that rational thought has little to do with…anything? This is how I believe a person should be portrayed when everything they stand on proves to be meaningless and know they are having to both question and reevaluate everything in their life.
Overall, Risen is a very entertaining film about transformation and truth, despite mostly being a work of historical fiction; just because you don’t understand something or see it happen does not mean that it’s impossible, especially not for God (Matthew 19:26). Parents should keep in mind that while this a Christian movie it does have a PG-13 rating. This is due to the opening battle scene and then the lightly shown corpses throughout Clavius’ investigation, however, it is somewhat mild compared to most action scenes. And while Risen is not the Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson) but it is better than a lot of other biblical films that have come out recently, like Noah (2014) by Darren Aronofsky.
“I believe Yeshua would have embraced you as a brother, even as you slew him.”
– Joseph of Arimathea (Antonio Gil), echoing Jesus’ call for forgiveness as he was being crucified (Luke 23:33-34).
Worth Seeing: 4.8 of 5 star
Worth Buying: 4.8 of 5 stars
I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch Risen (2016).
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Heaven is Real (2014)
Miracles from Heaven (2016)
The Nativity Story (2006)
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Son of God (2014)
The Young Messiah (2016)
Cast & Crew
Directed by Kevin Reynolds
(Screenplay) Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello.
(Story) Paul Aiello.
Patrick Aiello --- producer
José Luis Escolar --- Production Services Spain
Scott Holroyd --- executive producer
Robert Huberman --- executive producer
Mickey Liddell --- producer
Pete Shilaimon --- producer
Music by Roque Baños
Cinematography by Lorenzo Senatore
Film Editing by Steve Mirkovich
Production Design by Stefano Maria Ortolani
Joseph Fiennes --- Clavius
Tom Felton --- Lucius
Peter Firth --- Pilate
Cliff Curtis --- Yeshua
María Botto --- Mary Magdalene
Luis Callejo --- Joses
Antonio Gil --- Joseph of Arimathea
Richard Atwill --- Polybius
Stewart Scudamore --- Peter
Andy Gathergood --- Quintus
Stephen Hagan --- Bartholomew
Mish Boyko --- John
Jan Cornet --- Thomas / Dydimus
Joe Manjón --- Simon the Canaanite
Pepe Lorente --- Thaddeus
Stavros Demetraki --- Philip
Selva Rasalingam --- James
Manu Fullola --- Matthew
Mario Tardón --- Andrew
Stephen Greif --- Caiaphas
Àlex Maruny --- Pilate's Orderly
Jacob Yakob --- Soldier at Tomb / Niche Soldier
Victor Trapani --- Nicodemus
Frida Cauchi --- Mother Mary
Mark Killeen --- Antonius
Margaret Jackman --- Miriam
Alberto Ayala --- James the Just
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