Risen Movie Review


Everyone at Pres has heard the nativity story and Jesus’s death and resurrection story at least once. Our religion teachers did a great job of explaining the story to us and now it is forever ingrained in my mind. Unfortunately, the movie Risen took that story and butchered it.

Risen is a retelling of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Cliff Curtis), but from the eyes of a Roman tribune, aka a Roman general named Clavius (American Horror Story’s Joseph Fiennes).

When I watched the trailer I was very excited to go see this movie. It seemed like they were going to put a great spin on how the Romans tried and failed to capture Jesus after his resurrection, the trailer deeming it “the most important manhunt in history.” I was both impressed and horrified.

Coming from someone who knows the stories of Jesus, I was confused at their inconsistency when it came to accuracy.

The Roman parts of the movie were very accurate. It included the correct hierarchy of the Roman army, prayers to Roman gods like Minerva (Goddess of wisdom) and Mars (God of war), and the setting looked like it was from Roman times.

However, the story of the Bible is very inaccurate. They switched the order of when Jesus is betrayed. Instead of Judas betraying Jesus to the Romans, which led to his crucifixion, a nameless man betrays Jesus after his crucifixion.

Then Roman tribune, aka Roman general, Clavius walks in on Jesus having a chat with his disciples and Mary Magdalene.  

After I saw this scene, I had a hard time staying in my seat. I wanted nothing more than to stand up and shout “that’s not how it happened!” Little did I know, that wouldn’t be the biggest change.

When I saw this trailer, I thought it would just be the Jesus story from Clavius’ point of view, but Hollywood being Hollywood, decided that they had to take it a step farther. Clavius followed the disciples to Galilee.

After this, everything that happens is almost directly from the Bible: the disciples going fishing and Jesus filling in their nets with fish for them, Jesus healing the leper, and some lines were even taken directly from the Bible.

Although the changes made the story more interesting, the movie could have been handled more tastefully and they could have down-played the changes to be less obvious.

If I was reviewing this movie based on the casting, the acting, the story itself, and completely disregard the accuracy, this movie was great.

The casting for this movie, although not flawless, was impressive. Hollywood has a tendency to do two things to Jesus. One, make him white with blond hair and blue eyes. And two, give him a six pack and sexual appeal. I don’t know about you, but sexualizing Jesus makes me very uncomfortable.

Risen is one of the few movies about Jesus that managed to avoid doing that. Cliff Curtis was an excellent casting of Jesus and could have been an accurate representation of him.

Although the casting was impressive, there were still many flaws. First, the role of Lucius (Harry Potter’s Tom Felton) had blond hair and blue eyes. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for people in Hollywood to understand that it is highly unlikely for people in the Middle East, during that time, to be Aryan.

My next serious problem is with Mary Magdalene and one of the guards that guarded Jesus’s tomb. Both Mary Magdalene and the guard had accents, but no one else did. At least Mary Magdalene had an accent that could pass as Middle Eastern. The guard had either a Scottish or Irish accent. I just don’t understand how they could have made such a huge error for something so simple.  

Although these couple of characters had me cringing in my seat, there was a tiny detail that had the movie nerd inside of me squealing in delight. Typically, when movies are made, they’re never shot from beginning to end. To save money and time, they’re shot out of order, which makes it very difficult to establish continuity in hair, makeup, backgrounds, and props from scene to scene.

But in Risen, Clavius had a cut on his lip which he got in the beginning of the movie, and as the movie progressed, you could see that wound slowly healing. Although this is an extremely minor detail, it shows how much thought went into planning each scene out and making sure every detail was in place.

The changes they made to the Bible made me really angry and a few of the roles they cast made me want to rip my hair out. However, both Clavius and Jesus were very well casted which made up for some of the things that they ruined.

I’m the type of person who feels the need to point out every flaw, which is why I couldn’t sit through it. If you are the type of person who can watch a movie even though they changed it from the source material completely, then I recommend watching it.