A Review Of The Movie, “Risen!"
A Review of the Movie, “Risen!"
Some of the most popular blogs in readership that I have written in this forum and elsewhere are my reviews of secular movies, but today I was elated to go out and see a movie, Risen, about the Christ, the Son of the one true and Living God. I make no bones about the fact that I am a Jesus Freak, and though that term is pejoratively used against Christians, I willingly and wholeheartedly embrace it. The beauty about the movie Risen is that, since it is a movie about the Christ, I do not have to worry about revealing any spoilers, at least for the Christians who supposedly know their Bible. To that glorious end, Risen is a movie about a Roman Tribute, played brilliantly by Joseph Fiennes, who is investigating, at the behest of Pontius Pilot, the Resurrection of the Christ. Pilot, the Roman Prefect, is worried because Christ’s Resurrection would cause unrest on the eve of Tiberius Caesar’s visit to the Holy Land.
For those who do not read or know their Bible, the Christ had predicted that He would rise from the dead - and He did - and because the Jewish Sanhedrin, most of whom condemned the Messiah to death, had said that the Christ was not God, but just an ordinary man, it is predictable the malignant crisis the Risen Christ would cause among the religious populace, especially, the followers of the Christ. Enter Pontius Pilot, who is a slave to ambition, and who thought that by appeasing the religious Jewish leaders, would put to literal rest the idea of a risen Messiah, and therefore, being able to have a good report for the visiting Caesar.
Pontius Pilot, like most people in authority, delegates the dirty work of life to others, including quelling rebellions, potential and otherwise, and, so, this is where the Joseph Fiennes, the Roman Tribute/soldier, comes to the fore to put to rest the idea of the risen Christ. The Tribute is relentless in doing his duties and has no deference for the followers of Christ Jesus - all that he is concerned about is securing the peace for Pontius Pilot, and in essence, Rome. There is a scene that bears out the Tributes’ dogged attention to duty where, while putting down a rebellion, says to one of the Jewish fighters, go to Yahweh, just before plunging a sword into the neck of the rebel. There is another seminal scene where the disciple Bartholomew is being a tad too pious and the Tribute is trying to glean from him the whereabouts of the rest of the Disciples. To get Bartholomew to talk, the Tribute pulls out the kind of long nails used in a Crucifixion and gives the disciple a visual lesson of what the Messiah must have gone through and further described viscerally what it is like to die hanging on a cross. The point is driven home, even more so, because all the Disciples, including Bartholomew, cravenly ran away from the Christ when he was arrested.
However, in the continuing investigation of the reported Resurrected Christ, the Tribute, who was a skeptic, is becoming a believer because of the building evidence he is witnessing, which, seemingly, is giving credence to the stories of an indeed risen Messiah. The Tribute’s life soon starts mimicking the life of Saul of Tarsus, whereby, he is proverbially knocked down off his perch of skepticism, thus, receiving his road to Damascus Divine epiphany. It is at this juncture of the movie where Mr. Fiennes really earns his well deserved acting kudos: witnessed when he bursts into a room, sword drawn, and sees the Risen Christ lovingly chastising the doubting disciple, Thomas. The look on the Tribute’s face is one of sheer surprise, which then morphs into tears, and with his sword falling involuntarily from his hand.
It is not only Joseph Fiennes’ acting that way over par, but it is Risen’s setting of A.D. 33 that is captured by the director. From the Judean Desert to the Sea of Galilee, all play an integral part to give you the epic Risen the notoriety it will garner in the years to come. There is even humor in Risen. Take for instance, when the Tribute is searching for Mary Magdalene, and he goes to a bar, full of men, asking for her. Almost all of the men’s hands are raised in recognition of Mary, which then resulted in the Risen movie audience laughing in unison, including myself. Once again, if you do not know your Bible, you will not get why the audience laughed.
Lest I forget, much props to Peter Firth, who plays Pontius Pilot, with such smarmy ambition… and with a wearied countenance that represents his efforts of bottling the political tempest that was Jerusalem for Rome. Notwithstanding my bias for the subject matter, I love Risen because of its adherence to the Biblical script, as authored by the Holy Spirit through His conduits. I underscore this salient point because of the perverted liberties, taken by some directors, who have filmed Biblical stories: from Ridley Scott’s latest Exodus God and Kings, where God is portrayed as a petulant nine-year-old boy; or in Noah, where the master builder is seen frequenting whorehouses, and having the Nephilims, the offspring of women and fallen angels, assisting Noah in building the Ark.
Mr. Fiennes will not be recognized or be winning any awards among the heathen, vainglorious crowd that he is part of in Hollywood because he lends credence to the life of Christ Jesus, the only Way and Mediator to the Living God. We are to expect the usual nominations for the perverse roles to be paraded on the Tele during Oscar season, but Risen will not be among them - but Risen will last long after the movies that are going to win Oscars in March and be played in the houses of God until the Christ returns. Incidentally, whether you are an agnostic or a Believer or simply enjoy a good movie, I recommend that you go out and see Risen, or moreover, you can simply read the Bible, authored by the one and only true and Living God!