Risen (2016), a period piece set during 33 AD, tells the Easter Story from a Roman perspective. Sure, similar premises have been done before.
But what makes this newer Christ-centered film stand out from other more recent preachy faith-based films is hands down the excellent cast and authentic storytelling.
While not nearly as epic in scope, Risen is definitely more influenced by the Biblical Hollywood films of the past. I find that to be a good thing.
Furthermore, the twisty unconventional way director Kevin Reynolds tells the Easter Story definitely intrigues in a good way. Whether a Christian or not, the quality filmmaking on a low budget is definitely worth your time, particularly if you’re interested in the time period.
(Of course, the general audience will still mainly be Christians.) And, with Easter just around the corner, Risen has a lot to offer for believers.
Risen: The Story
Clavius is just your ordinary Roman soldier assigned to oversee Hebrew deaths (including that of Jesus). He doesn’t think twice. This is what he knows.
Then, after Christ’s crucifixion, Pontius Pilate assigns Clavius to guard Jesus’ tomb. But nothing goes right from there. His men fall asleep intoxicated on the job.
To make matters worse, the remains have disappeared mysteriously by the next morning. Even stranger? Whispers of a risen Messiah spread and Clavius must uncover the truth.
Clavius’ search for the truth unfolds in an interesting almost detective-like way. He interviews potential witnesses seeking what actually happened, opening a window into Christ’s resurrection.
And in the process, he has his own spiritual transformation. It’s this transformation that lays the true heart of the film.
That said, the subtle filmmaking leads effortlessly to the eventual discovery of the resurrected Christ. The movie also stays true to the New Testament.
You feel transported back to the time of Christ and can almost experience what it would actually feel like to see Christ again or even for the first time.
The Risen Cast
From Joseph Fiennes, Peter Firth (Pilate), and Tom Felton to more authentically cast actors (Jesus called Yeshua here is not white), the performances pull you into the past.
However, as Risen is all about Clavius’ transformation, Joseph Fiennes carries the film. From Roman unbeliever to a deeper spiritual awakening, you witness the changes slowly through facial expressions and even subtle eye movements. The Metamorphosis is truly wonderful to watch.
Look, Risen never tried to win a ton of awards. Instead, this is a lower-budget Biblical period piece with excellent acting, good costumes, and an interesting take on a familiar story.
It’s not a masterpiece but it’s a good film about hope, Christ, and redemption which is something I personally like to watch around Easter time (or really during any time of the year). Perhaps you will too.
Content Note: PG-13 for Violence.
What are your thoughts on Risen? Do you have a favorite Easter film? Sound off below…