Movie Review- Risen

Apr 1, 2016


I saw Risen the week before Easter in an almost full theater in Curitiba, Brazil. As with most American releases in Brazil, the movie was in English with Portuguese sub-titles. While there is no doubt that Risen would be considered a “Christian” film, it definitely appeals to a wider audience than just Christians. It has generated over 30 million dollars in the US alone.

Risen focuses on the day of Christ’s crucifixion and then through the 40 days after his resurrection. The movie is told through the eyes of the Roman Tribune, Clavius. The Roman Governor, Pilate, assigns Clavius the job of finding the body of Jesus so that the rumors of his resurrection can be squelched. Actor Joseph Fiennes gives an excellent and believable performance as Clavius.

As the Tribune conducts his investigation into the missing body of Jesus, however, Clavius begins to see that finding this body is not going to be easy. As he interviews various people about Jesus, he begins to hear first-hand of their claims that Jesus was alive again. While the Tribune just assumed that those he had interviewed were crazy fanatics, their stories were remarkably similar.

The evidence at the tomb has also left Clavius with some unanswered questions. The heavy stone is several yards from the tomb as if it was thrown there. The ropes that were used to tie the stone in place appeared to have been ripped instead of being cut. Inside the tomb, Clavius had seen what looked like the face of Jesus imprinted on the linens that he had been wrapped in.

For me, one of the most powerful scenes in the movie was when Clavius was finally able to interview one of the Roman guards who had been present at the tomb. The Jewish priests had provided sanctuary for them. The punishment for sleeping on duty was severe and the Jews protected them. The Jewish religious leaders also used the Roman guards to perpetuate the story that Jesus’ disciples had come in the middle of the night and overpowered them and stolen the body.

Clavius’ was able to get the man to finally talk about what he had seen on that Sunday morning at Jesus’ tomb. The guard’s story shakes Clavius, even though he tries to blow it off as the tale of a drunken soldier who drank some tainted wine. No matter how hard Clavius does not want to believe, the evidence is beginning to accumulate.

I will not give away the rest of the movie, but I will quote Clavius. He writes a letter to Pilate and the Romans who eventually come looking for him. “I have seen two things which cannot reconcile: A man dead without question, and that same man alive again. I pursue Him, the Nazarene, to ferret the truth.” May we all pursue the Nazarene to find the ultimate Truth.

David and Annie are serving the Lord in Brazil. They are training leaders and helping plant churches. Would you join their team? Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

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