This week I went to see “Risen” at a cinema.
I am not an overt cinema goer, but I’m always interested in Biblical movies. For me, seeing visual depictions of the Bible on screen is often exciting and inspiring.
Recent so-called ‘Biblically inspired’ releases such as “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” have not even made it into my collection, but “Risen” certainly will. After all, the Bible contains the greatest stories ever written and the Biblical landscapes always look fantastic on film when the Bible is portrayed in a proper way.
For those who may not know, “Risen” is a new fictional movie inspired by the events surrounding the historic death and ‘resurrection of Christ’. It features a character named “Clavius” who is a Roman official, tired from battle, and summoned by Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem to break the legs of the newly crucified Jesus and dispose of His body. By the time Clavius arrives at Golgotha, the crucified Jesus is already dead and Clavius instructs a Roman solder to thrust the spear in His side. The body of Jesus is taken by Nicodemus, as Scriptures tell, and a Roman seal is put upon His tomb and under the watch of Roman guards.
When rumours surface of a resurrection, Clavius is sent to take care of the situation and find His body and settle the matter before Caesar arrives in Jerusalem.
When the ‘body of Jesus’ cannot be found the investigation begins but things do not work out as both Pilate and Clavius had planned. What follows is a Biblically respectful film and one that, on the whole, is consistent with what the Gospels record.
Joseph Fiennes, who plays Clavius is a great actor of modern times. His portrayal of Martin Luther in the 2003 film “Luther” was excellent and fresh. Likewise, his portrayal of Clavius was also well played.
In my opinion, “Risen” is a good film, Biblically consistent and respectful. The film had a positive and distinct absence of mere entertainment based dramatics and over acting, and seemed to deliver a film based upon dialogue and confronting personalities within the narrative of the greatest story ever told. Clavius is human, the disciples are fun. Pilate is concerned and Mary Magdalene is “free”.
For me, I felt the overall direction of the film was not heavy, the sets were excellent and the costumes fitting. The soundtrack was appropriate and occasionally the script contained a sense of the type of things New Testament people might have said in everyday life.
In my opinion, “Risen” remained respectful to Scripture and the centrality of the resurrection story. It was careful to not over interpret the narrative. I enjoyed watching the whole film. I wasn’t overly impressed by some of the accents or the portrayal of Jesus, but I suspect the film makers chose to present Jesus in a more ‘regular’ sense than many other films, however, he maintained a distinct middle Eastern appeal.
I think all Christians and none Christians should go and see “Risen” and for believers, I would like to say this; please don’t be put off by the recent past releases of “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. Forget about them, “Risen” is not in the same league. And although “Risen” may not be one of the greatest Biblical movies ever made, it is still ten thousand times better than “Noah” movie and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” combined. And the sooner Hollywood learns from this and realizes that the Bible contains the greatest stories and narratives ever written, the sooner Hollywood can stop wasting its time producing mock Biblical films and the more Christians can cease from wasting their money on going to see them.