The movie "Risen" is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ as told from the perspective of a Roman solider named Clavius who is tasked with finding the body of Jesus in order to quell any unrest that might occur in Jerusalem with the proclamation of the messiah's arrival. Overall I enjoyed the movie. It did get a little long in that you will feel like you've been in theater for two hours which is about the run time of this movie, but I thought that the movie did an excellent job of portraying what it would be like to live back in the 1st century, (aside from casting choices which I will get into later) and did a good job of approaching the resurrection account from several different perspectives. The actors all did a good job, I don't think any of them will be winning an Oscar, but I never felt like I was just watching a movie. The main character Clavius played by actor Joseph Fiennes was very good in portraying the mix of emotions one would feel when considering the ramifications of a man being risen from the dead. I fear however that his performance might be too subtle for critics notice, but that is neither here nor there. In terms of Biblical accuracy the film did okay. This is something that I will have to cover when I get into spoiler territory, but for now let me say that while they did quote from scripture which I was pleased by, the movie took a literary licence with when and where some Biblical events took place.
One thing parents should consider is that this movie seeks to be accurate in terms of the brutality of warfare back in those days which is seen a battle sequence at the beginning of the movie, and the cruelty and brutality of crucifixion as well. The violence in the movie has a purpose which is to demonstrate how brutal the world was during that time, but parents should be aware of the violence in this movie while considering taking children to the film. This concludes my spoiler free review. If you do not want the movie spoiled then i suggest you stop reading now.
One of the scenes I really enjoyed in the movie is the scene when Clavius first witnesses the resurrected Jesus. He is hunting for the disciples of Jesus and so he is kicking open doors, and searching house to house, and he enters one house where he is sure to find all the disciples. The audience by this point in the movie has only seen one of the disciples Bartholomew, and it is in following him that Clavius was able to find the others, so when he opens the door we see all these different men, and you can't really tell one from the other until it pans to one man, and at first I didn't have any idea who it was, but then it did a jump cut to that man on the cross and then I realized, that's Jesus! The reason why I enjoyed this so much is twofold. #1. I enjoyed because it put me in the same emotional state as Clavius. The movie had a done a good job of sucking me into following Clavius hunting down the disciples, and that sudden realization that the man he is seeing is in fact Jesus and the shock that went along with that was great and really put me in Clavius' shoes for that moment. Major props to the movie for doing what they did. #2. I thought this scene was brilliant because at first Jesus just looked liked everybody else, and it wasn't until I saw him on the cross that I understood that it was Jesus. I liked this because whether it was intentional or not this movie was accurate to the prophecy in Isaiah stating that Jesus would not stand out in his appearance and so we have in this movie a Jesus who didn't stand out in his appearance. I think it was great how it worked out that way. This brings me to the casting of Jesus which I also really liked. Now I don't want to come across as a racist here, so if you get that vibe, I'm sorry, it's not my intention, but i really liked the fact that Jesus was not played by a white guy. Jesus was played by Cliff Curtis, and with his performance, and make up, Jesus looked much like a Jew would who lived in the region at that time. I am so happy to see a Jesus that is more historically accurate. Again I'm not trying to be racists in saying all Jews look a like or anything thing like that, but it was good to see a Jesus with darker skin, and who looked the part. What I also found interesting were the casting choices in terms of Jews and gentiles. There is a clear ethnic difference between the characters that are meant to be Jews, and the characters that are meant to be Gentiles. While the movie take a literally license with both, it is still good to see that they are showing these ethnic divides in the movie which further nails down the point that in Jesus these divides have been torn down as Jesus welcomes Clavius to follow him just as he welcomes Simon Peter. Clavius being a gentile, and Simon Peter being a Jew.
In terms of biblical accuracy as I said the movie puts biblical narratives in, but changes them slightly. Take for example when Clavius first sees Jesus. Shortly after Thomas walks in and touches the side of Jesus, and the nail holes in Jesus' arms. In the Bible however it is Thomas who is there first, and then Jesus arrives, so while the movie had this narrative in there, they did alter it slightly. For the most part though since the movie takes place from the perspective of Clavius who someone not named in Scripture it is possible for the audience to either view this as a what if situation, or see Clavius as one of the many witnesses of Jesus' resurrection not listed by name in scripture. While Christians should be aware of these changes they are not so bad as they alter the meaning of the text nor in the opinion of this Pastor undermine the text or the faith.
In conclusion I think Risen is a great movie for Christians to watch due to its focus on the resurrection which can be an aspect of Christ that does not get the attention it is due. It is also a great way to start up conversations with unbelievers about if Jesus did really rise from the dead and what that means for everyone if he did. The movie is not too preachy so I feel that is an unbeliever is willing watching the movie will not cause them cringe as watching other Christian movies that have been made in the past. Parents should note the violence in the film as it does have a violent battle, and you do see the two other men next to Jesus on the cross getting their legs broken, and we see Jesus being stabbed in the side as he was. While it is true that Romans did break the legs of people on the cross and Jesus was stabbed in the side, if a parent chooses not to allow a child to see that violence at that point in their life, then that is their prerogative. Risen is a movie that I would like to own and would enjoy seeing again. Have you seen the movie Risen? What did you think? What is your favorite Christian movie? Comment below and let me know, and as always thanks for stopping by.