The aftermath of Christ's resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer . . . Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a powerful Roman Military Tribune, and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton), are tasked by Pilate (Peter Firth) with solving the mystery of what happened to Yeshua aka Jesus, (Cliff Curtis) in the days and weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Faithful to the scriptures (as it were) Risen is a sort of redemption story inasmuch as Roman Tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) finally comes to believe in the resurrection - and in the personage of Yeshua (Clifton Curtis) as the Messiah. I say sort of because he only 'believes' once he unexpectedly meets the man - now smiling benignly across the room at him - who he had last seen dying on the cross. Not much conversion required here based on blind faith .... *
There isn't a subversive moment in the whole film, although it is presented from the point of view of an occupying power - Rome - dealing with the problems of dissenting and restless - and religiously fired - locals.
Christians will welcome the modern sensibilities that underpin the film but do not jar with the received history of this man's crucifixion, which we do not witness, except its immediate wake. That is a wise omission, keeping the dramatic focus on the post-crucifixion story. It's not true, but it might have been ...In a sense Pilate, (Peter Frith) ordering Clavius to find the corpse of the Nazarine they had just buried, speaks for all those who question the resurrection as a factual event. His motives are political, to avert the Messiah-myth from gaining grassroots credence and agitate the occupied Jews.
Joseph Fiennes delivers a quietly spoken Clavius, effective both physically and emotionally, as are Tom Felton as his aide, Peter Firth as Pilate and Maori actor Cliff Curtis as Yeshua, whose presence is tastefully limited. Solid support amongst the apostles and a strong, intelligent Mary Magdalene thanks to Maria Botto.
In fact tasteful is a good description for the film, where it refers to its religious elements, but it is pretty robust as an action thriller in which the occupying army is hunting a guerilla, to give it a contempo frame.
Cinematography, design, costumes, music and editing are all top notch, making the film an easily enjoyed adventure, irrespective of one's faith (or lack of).
* The late Dr Barbara Thiering spent her academic life studying the Dead Sea Scrolls and came to believe that Jesus did in fact survive the crucifixion, thanks to the poison he was secretly administered on the cross (under the guise of vinegar) and the practicalities of the Sabbath, which necessitated his rapid removal from the cross, to be buried in a private tomb - where, given purgatives to expel the poison, he was able to escape with the help of followers. He lived a long life, Dr Thiering reckoned.
Email this article
CAST: Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis, Maria Botto, Stephen Hagan, Mark Killeen, Mish Boyko, Antonio Gil, Stewart Scudamore, Frida Cauchi
PRODUCER: Patrick Aiello, Mickey Lidell, Pete Shilaimon
DIRECTOR: Kevin Reynolds
SCRIPT: Kevin Reynolds, Paul Aiello
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lorenzo Senatore
EDITOR: Steve Mirkovich
MUSIC: Roque Ba–os
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stefano maria Ortolani
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 18, 2016