It seems that someone in Hollywood is always wanting to make a movie out of the life of Jesus. Sometimes it's been done well, sometimes not. Sometimes from Jesus' point of view, sometimes that of His followers. But the Risen movie that stars Joseph Fiennes will be telling Jesus' story from the viewpoint of an unbelieving Roman soldier.
Risen was directed by Kevin Reynolds and filmed through Affirm films, which is a division of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA). The casting choices of Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, Luther), Tom Felton (Harry Potter series), Peter Firth (The Hunt For Red October, MI-5), and Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead) are believed to be a strong mix that will capture the attention of movie-goers and draw them into the seats come February 19, 2016.
Nashville-based producer Rich Peluso says that when he first read the script for Risen back in 2007, that, "I absolutely fell in love with it. It was just well-crafted, just strong writing. But more importantly was that it unabashedly told the story between the crucifixion into the full-on resurrection, into the ascension and traveled with Christ into Galilee with the disciples all the way to the ascension. No one really ever tackles that. The second thing that was completely fresh about it was that most stories of Christ are told through either an omniscient point of view... or it's through a disciples' point of view."
Peluso addes that, "We have to think about the fact that when Jesus rose, the grave was empty. There were Romans that were there to guard it. What on earth was happening on the other side of the room that we're not paying attention to? Something had to happen. At some point, Caiaphas had to get the news that the tomb was empty, and at some point Caiaphas had to confront Pilate with it, who'd had him killed. Pilate, who had to have sanctioned the guards at the tomb had to have been embarrassed, because his military, who's the greatest army in the world, just failed in their job. So there are all of these political, spiritual, social dominoes that are falling."
The name of Fiennes' character is Clavius, who is an unbelieving Roman commander serving under Pontius Pilate. He and his aide, Lucius (Tom Felton) have been ordered by Pilate to overseee the execution of Jesus and make sure His body doesn't get stolen by His followers with claimes of a resurrection. When Jesus' body ends up "disappearing" only days later, Clavious isn't particularly pleased about being assigned to do the investigation. But as he pursues each lead, it only leads to more questions. Clavius' focus is to get to the truth and shut down the alleged rumors. It's his love for truth that really feeds his passion to get to the bottom of what has truly happened.
Peluso says that the film is one that has a great deal of appeal to unbelievers who are searching for truth because of the fact that it is told from an unbeliever's point of view. He says that there was such a deep concern for this that it was even tested in front of large audiences.
"What we're seeing from non-Christians and those who do not regularly attend church is that they do not feel preached to. They don't feel kind of hit over the head with Jesus or the Bible. But, they are intrigued by this man and His followers. They are intrigued by the story of what happened, the birth of Christianity and the fact that the infrastructure of Judea, both the Sanhedrin and the Jewish leadership and the Roman leadership were all about crushing this man and crushing His followers. So that automatically lends them credibility.
Jesus is not talking at them heavily through this movie. It's through Clavius' interactions with Jesus and Clavius' interactions with the disciples that we learn of Jesus' teachings and we learn who He is as the Son of God. And again, it all feels just so easy to try on for the unchurched."
Christians are also aparently finding the movie interesting. Peluso says that, "They're just relieved that it's not like the two big Bible movies of last year, in that it didn't take liberties beyond acceptable levels in their mind. So they were relieved. And we're excited that Christians feel like they can embrace this story."
To check out the Risen trailer, click here.