If you don’t like spoilers or if you are going to see the movie, Risen, then this post might not be for you. I think in order to properly talk about a movie you have to talk about the movie (see what I did there). So I will be writing about some events in the movie that maybe you don’t want to know about ahead of time, I get it. Here’s your chance to turn away.
Alright. First things first. I am a Christian, so movies like Risen are supposed to give me the feels even before I have seen it. I mean, we have to support each other, right? No, not necessarily. In fact, I don’t watch most of what Christendom has to offer when it comes to the cinema. Why? Two words. Production value. Christian feature films are usually dull and preachy. I don’t believe just putting the message out there is good enough. In today’s technological age, there needs to be something to the film. Back to Risen. I do admit that when I first saw the trailer, I was jacked. Why? Because this subject matter is right in my wheel house. One of the first things I ask people about Jesus is, “Do you think Jesus was real?” Did he actually walk the earth? From this point of view, Risen is amazing.
The movie is all about the perspective of Clavius, a Roman Tribute, in charge of all the Roman Guard in Jerusalem. He is at the crucifixion of Jesus and sees him die. He looks into the dead eyes of Christ. The Jewish leaders of the day convince Pontius Pilate to secure the tomb site with the Roman guard as the followers of Jesus had talked about him being risen on the third day and they didn’t want that. Pilate agrees.
None of this ends up mattering as the tomb is empty the next day with the guard nowhere to be found. Clavius is sent on a mission to find the body of Christ before Ceasar arrives later that month or their world will be turned upside down and not for the better. The movie expertly captures the pressure and desperation of the political and religious leaders during that time. They had no desire to know what the truth is, just that their power is undisturbed and things appear normal to the outside world. Clavius digs up bodies, drags in witnesses, busts down doorways, and bribes people he thinks can help him find the body. The problem is that Clavius is after the truth. Evidence for the miraculous is brought before him again and again until he has to do something desperate. I will let you see the movie so you can see for yourself what that is. I will tell you what Clavius said when asked whether he believed in Jesus or not. “I don’t know if I believe, I just know I can never be the same.”
Risen is a murder/mystery all wrapped up in the supernatural. I loved this movie and will be seeing it again. Joseph Fiennes does a perfect job as Clavius and you can feel his doubt and anxiety about as he makes the discoveries.
If you want a movie that makes you think, whether you’re a believer or not, then Risen is a great choice. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 57% approval rating, which I believe is high for a “Christian” movie. However, after reading some of the negative reviews, I realized the movie was marked down specifically because of its genre.