When I heard that "Risen" was billed as the "sequel to 'The Passion of the Christ'" I was hopeful yet slightly skeptical. Those were some shoes to fill. "The Passion" packed theaters around the globe despite being in two ancient languages and had a mystical quality about it that made it more than a movie, it drew you in, to an encounter with Jesus. You were not a bystander, but a spiritual participant, so much so, that I was drawn to see it many times in Lent of 2004 and it has never left me. Could another film about Christ even come close?
Not until now. "Risen" was described as a murder mystery and, in the beginning, its a fascinating look at the chaos surrounding the Crucifixion of Christ: the terror of the disciples fearful of persecution, the frustration of the Roman's at the Jew who would not stay dead, and the envious conniving of the Sanhedrin to keep the Resurrection quiet. Then Clavius, the war-weary Roman Tribune sees something mystical in the followers of Christ, and little by little, seeks more than just the body of Jesus.
That's when "Risen" began to resemble "The Passion" for more than the opening credits and music which were clearly inspired by it. Its gritty portrayal of the brutality of Roman rule, juxtaposed with the peace and love of Christ, and the affect which He had on those who knew Him, drew me in and kept me transfixed. Clavius became Everyman who seeks Christ even though he isn't sure what he will find.
"Risen" made it hard to leave the theater, and kept my daughter and me talking all the way home about the film, planning to experience it again, just as we did with "The Passion." It made me stay up past midnight to share this extraordinary experience which will transform your Easter into an encounter with the living Christ in history. Go to see it and be transported back to the terrifying days of Christ's death and resurrection, walk the unsure steps of the apostles, and have your heart moved by a very human yet majestic Jesus.
Nothing short of a stunning performance by Joseph Fiennes as Clavius, I would say Oscar worthy, but I know better. This film will receive its accolades from its audience, its rising fast in popularity and will become an Easter classic, a beloved part of Christian family tradition to be viewed every year after "The Passion".
Violence is too graphic for children, but there is no objectionable content, the film is 100% loyal to Scripture and Cliff Curtis is a worthy Jesus. You owe to yourself to see "Risen."