- Risen (2016), rated M for mature themes, violence and some disturbing images
That of course is the Australian rating; in the United States, it’s rated PG-13 for Biblical violence including some disturbing images.
As usual, I’ll give the trailer and a clip at the end.
And as usual, I offer the following disclaimer, JUST to be safe:
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED AT OWN RISK.
The story of the greatest Man in history – namely, Yehoshua (or Yeshua) ha’Mashiach, aka Jesus the Christ – has been adapted numerous times for stage and screen. Several of these focus specifically on His birth, or His resurrection. His Story has been told from many different viewpoints. And yet surprisingly, Kevin Reynolds manages to tell the story – accurately – from a fresh perspective, and provide a unique take on history’s greatest event.
After crushing a Zealot revolt in Judea led by Barabbas (Karim Saleh), Roman Tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is assigned by Governor Pilate (Peter Firth) to oversee an in-progress crucifixion of a religious man named Yeshua (Cliff Curtis) and a couple criminals. Due to Pharisaical superstition, a guard is appointed to guard Yeshua’s tomb – donated by Joseph of Arimathea (Antonio Gil). 3 days after the crucifixion, however, Clavius hears of rumours that Yeshua has risen from the dead. With the Emperor due to visit the city soon and the possibility of a rebellion brewing, Pilate orders Clavius to find Yeshua’s body and quash the rumours – and potential rebellion – once and for all.
My favourite thing about this movie is its unique perspective: it’s basically a detective crime mystery with a supernatural twist. It’s also told from the point of view of an unbeliever – told from the perspective of a Tribune tasked with investigating the theft of Yeshua’s body, but who when confronted with sighting after sighting of the man alive, gradually comes to realise that there may be something to the rumours of a resurrection after all.
Joseph Fiennes provides a solid performance as the lead character, Clavius, a Roman unbeliever tasked with tracking down Yeshua’s body – and has his unbelief seriously shaken.
Peter Firth provides a similarly solid performance as Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, a man who wants to keep the peace ahead of the upcoming imperial visit, and as such tasks Clavius with quashing the rumours of Yeshua’s resurrection.
I also really liked Cliff Curtis as Yeshua, the crucified Messiah who rises from the dead after a few days, becoming the focus of Clavius’ manhunt. Curtis brings an everyman feel to Yeshua, and passes as a first-century Middle Eastern Jew more easily than some of the other actors to have played the role.
I also didn’t mind Tom Felton as Lucius Tyco Ennius, Clavius’ loyal aide (whose name is almost certainly a nod to his role as Draco Malfoy – whose father’s name was Lucius – in Harry Potter).
My second-favourite thing about this movie is that it’s the only Biblical movie to consistenly refer to our Messiah by His real Hebrew Name: YESHUA. The Anglicised form JESUS is never used ONCE throughout the entire film. Honestly, I found it rather refreshing.
My favourite individual moment is when Clavius and his men are inspecting the empty tomb, and find His empty shroud – it is quite clearly the Shroud of Turin, with Yeshua’s face burned into it by His resurrection. (See Has Jesus’ Burial Shroud Been Found? for why I believe the Turin Shroud to be authentic.)
My favourite scene is probably when Clavius tracks down one of the soldiers who was on guard the night of Yeshua’s resurrection – who insisted, despite the problems in his story, that Yeshua’s disciples stole the body – and forces the real version of events out of him. The acting by Richard Atwill is superb; you can see the raw fear and emotion in his eyes as he recounts the miraculous event.
This is a fairly simplistic review, but Risen isn’t some grand effect- and action-filled blockbuster; it’s a simplistic, refreshing, and unique retelling of the greatest event in history, and one that I highly recommend.