Welcome back to Movie Review Monday! It’s been a while. A bit of nostalgia hit me Sunday as I referred a friend to my review of “Saving Christmas”, the first MRM ever! It was neat to see how far along things have come.
Well, I’m sorry for this one ahead of time, but I have a lot to say. If you’d like technical reviews or even a bibliographical, topical, piece by piece pic apart review, I can refer you to Tim Chaffey’s post on the film: here but you won’t find that on this blog. I’m a worldview reviewer mostly, but for biblical based films it gets a bit wild and messy. Keep up if you can: here’s “Risen”.
Alright, jumping right into the heat of battle with the first few sequences, we experience the main character for what the film wants to ingrain into the viewer’s mind that he is: a heartless Roman Tribune. It portrayed the paranormal lust for pain and death that these Roman soldiers had. They were trained to do this. They were less than men in some cases and the film well established that through the acting, the situations, the costumes and props, even down to the score; you feel the heat of their contempt of life.
Seriously though, does no one know Jewish history or biblical history? Moving right along here, skipping a lot of the mid section of the film and getting right to Jesus’ burial. Every movie, in spite of explicit instruction everywhere you look, always shows the grave clothes of Jesus as if He was wearing a toga. In truth, the Israelites buried the dead in much the same manner as the Egyptians.
Okay… I’m done. I could pick apart films like this for scriptural inconsistencies and cultural and historical failures all day long, but I’m not going to. I admit that for several reasons I didn’t even finish the film completely in my first sitting. I went back and watched the final 45 minutes of it just to say I did, but the movie was complete without them. The movie had already accomplished its goal and delivered its message by the time I quit watching the first time around. If you haven’t watched it, I won’t spoil it for you: but the climax comes and goes, the main character’s story is completed, and the entire basis of the film is resolved in under 1 hour.
For the last 45 minutes of this 105 minute movie, we begin to follow the story of “chasing Jesus” or Yeshua as it is phonetically pronounced in the film. We transition our focus from Clavius, the main character, to the twelve disciples in search of a risen Savior after His first appearance in the upper room. So, the second half of the movie isn’t even technically connected to the first and feels much more like its own story. We practically forget Clavius is the main character until the end, when he flashes back to reality and we realize he has been telling this story the whole time.
So, a little odd there. The point of the film is that a Roman seeks the rumored risen Christ, finds Him and becomes a follower. It’s a very good rendering of a very old, very overdone concept used by the classic film “The Robe”. Even “Ben Hur” has a similar story, and of course we’ve seen Christ’s crucifixion many times on a screen.
I think many people fall on either side of a judgmental spectrum concerning “Bible movies” specifically ones containing a representation or depiction of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I would say that we have become Biblicalist, that is Bible legalists, so to speak: that we criticize every minor flaw, fault, failure, and flop in the most harsh, dogmatic way possible. Or, the flip side of this coin is that we just don’t care or pay any attention; we’ve been desensitized to the point where if it’s in the movie we like the movie and we could care less if they get it right or wrong. There are Christians who rave over movies with Christian themes upon absolutely no merit other than that they have a piece of scripture in them. Forget that they got it all wrong, it’s officially a “Christian” movie because they mention Christ.
It’s nice to have bandwagon jumpers, but there’s also this: did this film have a clear representation or message of the gospel? No. Clearly not. They didn’t even use the name Jesus, and they surely didn’t mention why He died or what salvation was. Here’s a better question: did it need to have a clear gospel message? I would say no. I didn’t feel that it needed a clear, distinct, three points and a poem gospel sermon. However, the gospel message didn’t seem to even exist here. The story without a Christian perspective is just a story about a man who could do miracles living, dying, and rising again; along the way he convinced some radical Jews and a Roman to follow him. We know it’s Jesus. We get it. But who else will, really?
I know I’m being a bit harsh, but did the film ever say that Jesus was the Son of God? Did one of the disciples even actually say that the reason they followed Christ was because He could do miracles? (That’s actually in the movie). Is there a point at all where we learn that Jesus died for the sins of the world and we need to surrender to Him to be saved?
Well… If this was a film about Santa Claus, I would say it’s incredible, with a great message of believing and letting goodness and love change you. I mean that, this would be a great film if we swapped Jesus for Santa. But we don’t, and that’s not what it’s about.
I’m sorry, but they didn’t tell the whole story. So, let me finish it for you right here.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
–1 John 4:10
It’s a good film, truly. It really doesn’t have a “Christian” message at all, but as far as Hollywood goes, it’s a good clean watch. For me it’s just another point of study. I’m analytical, it’s my job, but I always want to learn what others get out of things that I have seen. I want to know what you think; so please, if you have watched the film or a going to, leave me a comment containing your thoughts and perspective. I’m giving Risen a positive review because it is neither good nor bad from a Christian perspective and is definitely 100% better than what else you could be watching. I’d rather see films with weak Christian messages being produced than those containing the opposite of Christian messages. That’s my two cents plus some. 🙂
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist