New movie 'Risen' explores Christ's Resurrection from unique perspective

by Jerry Circelli



In Risen, Joseph Fiennes portrays Clavius, a Roman tribune charged with finding the body of Christ after his crucifixion. (Photo courtesy Columbia pictures)

Imagine if you had been present to witness the resurrected Christ after his crucifixion. Surely you would be on fire, as the Apostles were, reaffirmed and ready to spread the Good News to the four corners of the world.

Twelve Apostles saw Jesus after his resurrection, according to the New Testament.

In addition, Paul tells us in (1 Corinthians 15:6) that Jesus “appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time…”

One can only imagine what it was like to be one of those who had seen Jesus walk among them after his death on the cross.

A new release from SONY pictures, Risen, gives us the opportunity to use our imagination and project ourselves a bit into that spiritual experience.

Risen is the story of the Resurrection seen through the eyes of a powerful Roman military tribune  — a high-ranking army officer  —  named Clavius (Joseph Fiennes).

While most depictions of the Resurrection are seen through the perspective of believers, this one is much different at the outset.

In this movie, Clavius and his aide, Lucius (Tom Felton), are given the task by Pontius Pilate to ensure that the followers of Jesus cannot steal his body and claim a resurrection. When Christ’s body is missing, an angry Pilate demands that his corpse be found in order to dispel rumors of a risen messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

You may at first see Clavius as a sinner and a man willing to obey orders at any price to advance himself. As the movie progresses, however, you see the soldier perhaps as an everyman, perhaps as yourself. You begin to realize that, like you, the man is searching for answers.

Isn’t it that way for most Christians? We are on a constant journey in search for those things that will bring us closer to God’s truth and to Christ. Along the way, we discover through the most unlikely of circumstances that God provides us with signs and directions that lead us closer to Him, if we are willing to open our hearts and minds.

While Risen truly transports us to the time of Christ through skillful cinematography, moving soundtracks, and attention to realistic detail, high-points in the film come from the parallels we make between Clavius and ourselves. Equally impressive are the saints we meet along the way — especially the Apostles and Mary Magdalene — who, like us, are growing in faith after Christ’s resurrection.

Promoters of the film claim that Risen begins where The Resurrection of the Christ left off.

Where it greatly differs, however, is that filmmakers tell the story of Jesus’ death, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven from a skeptic’s point of view. And that’s a good thing, because this treatment presents us with a different perspective and at the same time provides an opportunity to witness the power of redemption.

Fiennes touched on that theme and his character, Clavius, in a discussion with media while on a recent promotional tour of Risen in Dallas.

“Even those who are non-believers, in terms of Clavius, or the guards, or the Romans, anyone who is outside of Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) group, they still might be the players in God’s plan,” Fiennes said. “… We can’t throw away people who are not believers, because we don’t know how integral they might be to the greater mystery.”

Rich Peluso, senior vice president of Affirm Films/Sony Picture Entertainment, was also part of the local promotional tour. Some of his recent projects, greeted with popular success, have included War Room, Heaven is for Real, Soul Surfer, Courageous, When the Game Stands Tall, Mom’s Night Out, and The Remaining.  An upcoming film, Miracles from Heaven, is slated for release March 18.

Peluso said Risen is the biggest movie in which the faith-based film company has been involved, explaining it will appear on more than 3,000 screens in North America and also in theaters around the world.

“It’s huge,” Peluso said. “It will be the widest international release we’ve ever had for a film.”

Immerse yourself in this epic film, with dynamic cinematography, powerful soundtracks, dramatic acting, and a storyline that underscores your Christian faith.

The movie opens Feb. 19 in theaters worldwide. Mark it as a “must-see” during this Lenten season as you prepare for Easter and the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

RELATED: Risen star and producer share film experiences with North Texas Catholic

Imagine if you had been present to witness the resurrected Christ after his crucifixion. Surely you would be on fire, as the Apostles were, reaffirmed and ready to spread the Good News to the four corners of the world.