Exuberant Risen Tells the Story of Christ’s Love Through an Unbeliever’s Eyes

By Nancy Flory Published on February 18, 2016

The movie Risen, written by Paul Aiello and directed by Kevin Reynolds is a story familiar to Christians, but with a twist: it is the story of Christ’s death and resurrection told from the perspective of a Roman military tribune who was present for the crucifixion. This beautifully written film documents the journey of Clavius — the Roman tribune, and follows his quest for truth about Yeshua, the Christ.

Jesus crucified along with two convicted criminals in RISEN, in theaters nationwide, Feb. 19, 2016. Photo: Columbia Pictures

Jesus crucified along with two convicted criminals in RISEN, in theaters nationwide, Feb. 19, 2016. Photo: Columbia Pictures

Many of the film’s details are to be expected, since the story is widely known: craggy, dusty and sometimes barren landscape associated with the area of Jerusalem; seaside encounters with fisherman and Christ; familiar dialogue with many quotes lifted directly from scripture; and of course, the key part of the story — the crucifixion and resurrection.

Other details are not so expected, and seemingly unimportant or perhaps unnecessary in terms of maintaining the purity of the storyline. For example, a variety of accents peppered the film, from Mary Magdalene who had a Spanish accent, to Bartholomew who had an Irish accent, to Pontius Pilate who had a British accent. Further, many of the characters had blue eyes — highly unlikely, although not unheard of — for those who were born and raised in the area.

For the tribune, Clavius, the discovery that Yeshua (Jesus) — a man whom he knew to be dead — was alive comes as a shock to him. It was this discovery that led the tribune to begin a cross-country journey to follow Yeshua’s disciples, if only to find out more about him.


Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) and Lucius (Tom Felton) execute orders from Pontius Pilate in RISEN, in theaters nationwide Feb. 19, 2016. Photo: Columbia Pictures

The film is not without levity, even while keeping with the solemnity and accuracy of the story. Small bits of comedy are sprinkled throughout. When asked by the centurion where the disciples of Jesus were, Bartholomew slowly approaches the centurion and whispers in his ear (I won’t say what!) and laughingly sprints away.

The actors, with few exceptions, are quite believable. Simon in particular exudes exactly the kind of energy and passion one might expect from the beloved disciple of Yeshua. Mary Magdalene’s tears seem real. The joy expressed by the disciples over the news of Yeshua’s return permeates the theater. Overall, the actors maintained a strong sense of believability throughout the film.

The beauty of Risen is in the genuinely felt love of Yeshua for others, and in particular, his disciples. The precious love story of Yeshua and his disciples was very tender and meaningful. The excitement of the disciples upon seeing Yeshua tells a believable story of mutual philos: love between friends and brothers as observed by the tribune.

Risen is a well written film that tells the story of Yeshua’s crucifixion and the resurrection from the perspective of the Roman tribune, but does so with poise and grace, accuracy and a little humor. For those who know and love the story, this film is one you won’t want to miss. Risen is released nationwide February 19.



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