Written for the Period Drama Challenge hosted by Laurie over at Old-Fashioned Charm. ❤
Risen (2016, PG13)
starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, and Peter Firth
I'd been anticipating Risen since I saw the trailer in a showing of Captive (a film well worth watching) last year. I honestly thought I'd missed Risen in theaters because they changed the 2016 release date from January to February, but I did uncover the new release date, and in the span of that first weekend release, saw Risen twice in the theater. No, that's not my usual habit, but I loved it so much when I saw it on the 18th that I went with my sister and a friend on the 20th and then sent my parents to the theater for their own viewing on the 21st.
The premise is this. It is the resurrection story as told from the perspective of a Roman Tribune, one of Pilate's most trusted officers, one Clavius by name. When the body of the Nazarene goes missing, Clavius is tasked by Pilate specifically to find it before it decays and put an end to the rumors that Yeshua (or Jesus) has risen from the dead. Clavius conducts interview after interview, his interest piqued by the unswerving loyalty of the followers of Yeshua. He is certain that the body was, in fact, stolen, that is until he encounters Yeshua himself, sees the wounds on his arms and the hold in his side. Where then can his loyalty lie? What decisions must he make based on what he has seen?
I talked with a gal at work on the Monday following opening weekend. She was a chaperone for her church's youth group at a showing on Sunday, the same showing my parents attended as it happens, but she also took unbelieving neighbors with her. Risen made them think. At the end of the film, Clavius must make a choice. Can he continue on with his life, on the same path as before, or must he make a decision to change based on what he's seen and experienced? You can't just go along in life without making a decision and proclamation of faith, be it one way or the other. You have to decide. I love that Risen has the capability to make people think.
As for Risen being a period film, it undeniably is one, and one of the better Biblical films I've ever seen. My sister, the historic clothing fiend, absolutely LOVED the historic garments. And I admit, there was a definite aura of authenticity surrounding them. Like these people lived in their clothes, which they would have.
I think that's one of the things I liked so much. I bought that these men and women were from the era of Jesus. They're grimy and careworn, with ragged and dusty clothing just like you would have found back then. The disciples were the same, especially Simon Peter who's a rugged Jewish man with a ring of grizzled hair that sticks out under his cap. They owned the roles and made me believe I was in ancient Judea.
I'll get it out of the way right now. Yes, Draco Malfoy is in this movie. No, it doesn't bother me, and no, I didn't see Malfoy every time that I looked at Tom Felton's character, Lucius. Just like I wasn't thinking of Shakespeare in Love every time I looked at Joseph Fiennes. However, having these actors in this movie elevated it to a level that most Christian cinema never reaches. Throw Peter Firth into the mix and you cannot ask for a better cast of British actors.
I'm mildly frustrated that I couldn't find a picture of Cliff Curtis as Yeshua when he isn't hanging on the cross. Oh well, the internet isn't infallible after all. But I will say that he is the first Jewish Jesus I've ever seen. Most of them, if you'll be honest, feel like they're Catholic. With perfect hair hanging down their back and almost white skin. Cliff Curtis is of Maori descent in New Zealand, with olive skin, dark hair and rich, dark eyes. He plays a very sympathetic Yeshua, compassionate and good-natured and one of the many highlights of this film.
A clever stylistic tool was casting British actors as the Romans then more exotic actors as most of the Judeans. It created terrific continuity for the film that my sister noticed and praised and I agree with her.