Risen: a new take on the Resurrection
Risen (dir. Kevin Reynolds, cert. 12A), comes from American company Affirm Films, aimed at evangelical Christians, which is enough of an audience in the USA to make money. Unfortunately, UK publicity for churches has been sparse – Christian media gave some coverage but there was not much sign of the “reaching out to a coalition of leading Protestant and Catholic influencers” that was part of the American promotional strategy.
So it has arrived in Britain with very limited showings and may not even last over the Easter weekend. As Hail
Caesar! is still around, its depiction of Calvary may have to do.
Director Kevin Reynolds
( Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Waterworld) brings to the resurrection story a view of a non-believer, Roman tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes). He’s been busy putting down rebellions (one led by Barabbas) but Pilate wants him in charge of the crucifixion of Yeshua (Cliff Curtis), sealing his tomb, and then in the search for his missing body.
It becomes a detective story until Clavius finally tracks down the disciples, and finds the risen Christ among them. Then his loyalty – to Pilate, to Rome, and to the god Mars – is tested.
The biblical narrative is loosely followed, from Gethsemane to an ascension into the sun rising over Galilee. Spain and Malta double for the Holy Land.
Admittedly, no manuscript has a Roman officer fishing with the disciples when Jesus appears and they let down the net on the other side and catch lots of fish. The style is perhaps not as bluntly populist as Joseph Fiennes puts it - “Yeshua’s resurrection really is the mother of all murder mysteries” – but it tells the tale in a fresh way.
New Zealander Curtis (from Maori descent) has little to say, but looks reasonably risen, and there’s good support from Peter Firth as Pilate, Tom Felton as Clavius’s aide Lucius, Stewart Scudamore as Peter, and Stephen Hagan as a very cheery (even before the resurrection) Bartholomew. Unless it stays a second week in some screens, this may be one for the DVD release – and it’s not to be confused with HighRise, the film adaptation of JG Ballard’s dystopian novel.