Risen offers a good rendition of the time during Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, and transcendence as seen through the eyes of a skeptical Roman tribune who is charged with seeing that the crucifixion is carried out. Next, he’s to assure that the cave where the Nazarene’s body is placed has a huge stone rolled up to the entry by seven men to assure that the body is not stolen. His followers are suspected of trying to steal it, hide it, and claim that Yeshua (Jesus) arose from the dead. The Roman Prefect is especially nervous about quelling all unrest among the Hebrews because of the imminent visit of the emperor.
As he works to carry out the orders, Tribune Clavius (Fiennes) is watchful and thorough in going to all lengths in ferreting out the body. When he finds that the tomb is indeed empty the next morning, with the stained shroud left behind, puzzlement and doubt begin to have an effect on him. He overhears prophecies and tales of miracles that make him uncomfortable; and then he is given apparent proof that what the disciples are saying is true. This is a critical crossroads for him. Earlier, the Roman Prefect commented on his ambition and inquired about what he was seeking. The reply was to go to Rome, become an important figure, and have “position, power, wealth, a family, a house in the country—and, finally, peace—days without death.” Currently, with all the uprisings and the government’s response, his every moment is steeped in death, ugly deaths. Clavius is not heartless; he clearly shows his pain in the face of cruelty and suffering, and he is measured in his judgments.
The disciples truly believe that Yeshua has risen from the dead and that he will reappear in Galilee, so they take off after him, hoping to see him again and be touched by his presence, and to witness again his miraculous works. The Prefect instructs his soldiers to follow them, capture Yeshua, and “kill him again.”
The filming of this well-known story with the added twist of a Roman soldier is nicely related and well paced by writer/director Kevin Reynolds and writer Paul Aiello and made visually beautiful by Lorenzo Senatore’s camera. Special effects are used judiciously in battle scenes, earth-shaking events, and turbulent seas.
Fiennes grabs your attention in every scene he’s in and holds onto it with nuances in expression and maintaining a certain degree of mysteriousness that keeps you guessing as to what he is thinking. Supporting actors Tom Felton and Peter Firth give informed performances, and Cliff Curtis is perfect in his role as Yeshua; he has something of an unearthly aura about him that is most fitting.
What does a Roman soldier do once his conversion to Christianity begins?
Grade: C+ By Donna R. Copeland