“We’re astounded too!”
The inspiring drama Risen follows the Bible to portray real Biblical events before, during and after Jesus’ Resurrection along with fictional events from the point-of-views of a fictional Roman military officer ordered by Pontius Pilate to investigate the events during the first 40 days following Christ’s resurrection.
This story becomes even more compelling because many viewers already know the ultimate outcome and get to see how these events (some factual/Biblical and some fictional) develop and materialize.
Audiences view this epic Biblical story of the Resurrection through the eyes of Clavius, played by Joseph Fiennes (Luther, Shakespeare in Love), a powerful Roman military tribune as filmmakers portray Jesus’ resurrection throughout the one hour and 47 minute running time.
Filmmakers take great care in this historical portrayal and explain a wide range of each character’s point-of-view as these amazing events unfold. “Still yourself,” Clavius says to his fellow military men clearly amazed by these events.
Clavius endures questionable decision making, baffling interruptions, and orders that focus on the Roman Emperor’s whims.
Clavius and his newly appointed aide, Lucius, played by Tom Felton (Harry Potter film series), have orders to discover what happened to Jesus after His crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.
This duo forges a unique relationship based in the circumstances as well as each man’s true character. This comradery includes a key scene where Clavius shows Lucius how to treat a physical reaction to a tragic truth that they unfortunately must encounter and suffer through every day.
These filmmakers also give audience’s insight and special details for a comprehensive view of the circumstances, motivations, and goals behind each character’s actions.
Local Roman ruler Pontius Pilate, played by Peter Firth (Pearl Harbor), shares his views with Clavius as audiences understand their duty and personal feelings. These weary men present several candid insights that are natural, detailed and honest.
“Don’t give me that look…I’ve seen it enough already,” Pilate says after he explains the circumstances that lead to his reluctant order to crucify Jesus. After examining a dead body, Pilate also says, “What does it all matter? In a few years that’s us.”
Clavius shares his life dreams, but mainly yearns for a “day without death”. Clavius demonstrates admirable traits like extraordinary sacrifice, honesty and an iron will. These traits all factor into what lies ahead in his very personal journey.
“You will track down each and every one of these disciples,” Pilate orders Clavius as Pilate addresses the perceived threat of Jesus’ apostles stealing His body and claiming a resurrection.
Pilate uses words like “deranged” and phrases like “no other Gods and all that” to describe Jesus’ disciples. Pilate must also contend with an impending visit from the Roman Emperor as well as local leaders that include Caiaphas, well played by veteran actor Stephen Greif.
This investigation leads to interactions with key characters including Jesus’ apostles Peter, played by Stewart Scudamore and Bartholomew, played by Joe Manjón as well as and Yeshua (Jesus) himself, well played by Cliff Curtis (Live Free or Die Hard) who isolated himself for 30 days to prepare for his role.
“God is not at my beck and call,” Bartholomew says to Clavius when interrogated. “He’s right here. Open your heart and see,” responds Mary Magdalene, played by María Botto. “If you knew him, you’d understand,” says Miriam, played by Margaret Jackman.
These responses from Clavius’ interrogations show great resolve and faith as Lucius also witnesses these moments. Clavius also questions each guard who was stationed at Jesus’ tomb. Each of these two sequences on their own make the film worthwhile.
The main actors provide a substantial base for the film along with several other familiar people who make brief, but affective appearances like Jesus’ mother Mary, played by Frida Cauchi (13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi); Joses, played by Luis Callejo; Joseph of Arimathea, played by Antonio Gil and Thaddeus, played by Pepe Lorente.
Director Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Waterworld, The Count of Monte Cristo) and his crew solidify this quality film production. They create some brilliant moments, including a rising camera shot set at the Sea of Galilee, which are also enhanced by the musical score from Roque Baños.
The dialogue is a bit heavy in the first half of this film, but the visuals, flashbacks and impressive performances create a result as important as the subject matter. “All that for peace – is there no other way?” and other key dialogue become important foreshadowing story elements.
The crew includes carefully chosen experts who make notable contributions to the film and include former The Passion of the Christ crew members editor Steve Mirkovich and costume designer Maurizio Millenotti. Reynolds also co-wrote the strong screenplay with Paul Aiello in his debut. Aiello is also the brother of co-producer Patrick Aiello (The Double, As Above So Below).
Risen comes highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) for creating a great experience and is rated PG-13 for biblical violence, including some disturbing images.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler