3 Things I Liked about the “Risen” Movie

by Sean McDowell

Since the release of The Passion, faith-based films have been coming out from Hollywood at an increased rate. On the one hand, faith-based films are often cheesy and unrealistic. On the other hand, many lose the spirit of the original story and are utterly inaccurate (Noah, anyone?).

With a bit of hesitancy, my wife and I went to see Risen last night. All things considered, we were both pleasantly surprised! While some of the actors were more compelling than others, we both felt Joseph Fiennes (Roman soldier Clavius) and Maria Botto (Mary Magdalene) gave performances that were outstanding and memorable. And personally, I liked the depiction of Jesus (Cliff Curtis). He had a good balance of gentleness and strength, but also real compassion and a natural sense of humor.

While there are many commendable aspects of the film, I want to briefly highlight three key takeaways. First, Risen is creative. Let’s face it—sometimes faith-based movies can have two-dimensional characters and shallow plots. The challenge in making this film was how to tell the “greatest story of all time” in a fresh and captivating way. How can you take a familiar story and make it interesting? Their answer was to look at the fateful events (from the death of Jesus to his ascension) through the eyes of a Roman soldier who was assigned by Pilate to track down the body of Jesus after it mysteriously disappeared.

In the film, we see many familiar scenes—such as Jesus appearing to “doubting” Thomas amongst the apostles, the healing of a leper, and Jesus appearing to the apostles at Galilee—but from the perspective of how a Roman soldier may have experienced them. Even though I have read, heard, or seen these stories hundreds of times, Risen made me experience them in a fresh way…

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3 Things I Liked about the “Risen” Movie – Sean McDowell