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Risen - Film Review

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by Mila Wood (subscribe)
I work in the Finance department of a media company, and someone who dabbles in writing of any genre.
Published February 13th 2016
I was born in a country where the population predominantly practiced Catholicism. The Lord's Prayer was instilled in us by our parents at a very early age. But as we grew older, biblical phrases and their meaning, stemmed from being educated in Catholic schools, began to unfold. Thereby, the history of the birth of Jesus Christ has been told and re-told for centuries.

Since then, there are few testaments that have been documented when Jesus was born and here is one of them. In the city of Bethlehem, in the year 4 BC, the virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus by immaculate conception, fathered by the Holy Spirit of God. The Angels heralded that a saviour was born and who will be Christ the Lord.

His adopted father Joseph raised Jesus in the town of Nazareth and taught him to be a carpenter. Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist at the age of 30, but as Jesus stepped in the water of Jordan, he heard a voice from heaven. "This is my beloved son of whom I am well pleased".

Whilst staying in the holiness of the wilderness, he fasted for 40 days, feeling the holy spirits descended upon his body and then fated to live amongst men for three years.

Jesus's teachings have gained thousands of followers, thereby casting him as an enemy and a threat to public harmony. In the bid by the Romans to intervene, he was arrested, found guilty of blasphemy and condemned to death by crucifixion.

The Crucifixion (1622) by Simon Vouet, wikipedia


It has been stated by the gospel that Jesus's tomb was found empty on the first day of the week, which was Sunday. Jesus was resurrected and appeared to his followers the same day.

Centuries later, numerous biblical movies have been produced. Although historically, it has been said that Hollywood purposely disfavoured religious based movies. Most of these movies had been critiqued as having poor quality, inferior acting, and insignificant due to generally having a low budget, until The Passion of the Christ graced our screens. This top grossing Christian movie was directed by Mel Gibson. Religious based movies have always been deemed controversial and it had been alleged that a certain film studio was looking to buy the rights to Risen to make sure that it will never be released. Nevertheless, it was either the courage or a prediction that this could be an epic film, that it was finally picked up by AFFIRM Films. Hence in the continuation of the ground work of Mel Gibson's 'Passion of Christ", the epic film Risen was innate.

Theatrical release poster from Wikipedia


This movie has taken a staggering 10 years to make. The cast ingenuity made this film an epic and a must-see film for believers and non-believers. The film is centred on Jesus' resurrection from death. Pontiffs Pilate portrayed by Peter Firth then instructed Clavius who is a Roman soldier to investigate Jesus' death and resurrection and to prove that Yeshua is not the son of God. With surmountable number of Roman soldiers that Clavious gathered, they barbarically descend from one village to another interrogating Yeshua's followers.

The first few scenes were a bit ordinary but as the film goes on, I was totally engaged. I found the violence rather confronting, to the point of being in tears. I can almost feel the pain that is being thrusted unto his body. As a Catholic, I do believe that Jesus suffered for mankind.

The filming locations in Malta and Spain were quite befitting to the film. The dry barren mountainous area will make you believe that you are in the same era. Must I dare to compare Risen to Passion of Christ?

I believe that my expertise to such a notion is questionable.
In my opinion, the way the history was portrayed lacks a lot of depth; nonetheless, we must consider the utmost importance of the biblical concept of this film.

This historical drama film is directed by Kevin Reynolds . He is an American Film Director and Screenwriter. His accolades are too vast to list, thus he has gained a reputation as one of the best sought after directors.

Clavious, a powerful Roman Centurion is portrayed by Joseph Fiennes . I was expecting a brutal, unforgiving and a cruel Romanian soldier, and yet, this charismatic actor came across as somewhat serene and composed that he seems to have disengaged himself from the unfathomable pain that he ordered to inflict the pain to the Jesuit.

Nevertheless, this English film and stage actor credentials includes his portrayal of William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love which gained him a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor amongst others.

Cliff Curtis played the part of Yeshua.

As Yeshua, Cliff didn't have a lot of scenes, apart from the gruesome event of him being nailed to the cross.

By saying all of the above, I must add that the work involved in making this movie must be quite cumbersome, not to mention controversial, therefore, my admiration is duly warranted.
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