With RISEN opening nationwide in theaters tomorrow, February 19th, I’m thrilled to share my recent interview with the film’s star, Joseph Fiennes. In his role as Clavius, Fiennes confronts head on the “mystery” at the heart of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What begins as a “whodunnit” of sorts becomes one man’s ultimate quest for truth.
While RISEN is a faith-based film, this is not your grandma’s sticky sweet brand of bible movie. RISEN opens with an intense battle scene that shows off the incredible research and physical training that went into making every aspect of this film both historically accurate and as intense as that era surely was. The action at the onset and the somewhat graphic nature of the crucifixion of Christ make this a film for mature teens at the youngest. But I would encourage parents who may be put off by the film’s PG13 rating to accompany their teens and young adult children to this film. (Read the extended Catholic News Service review of RISEN here.) The action and violence are never gratuitous and are core to what makes this film so powerful.
At the heart of RISEN is one man’s quest to comprehend. While Clavius sets off to solve a mystery because it’s his job as a Roman Tribune assigned the task by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth), we eventually witness firsthand a search for the greater truth. In reality, Clavius’ quest to understand mirrors our own desire to know God’s true plan for our world and how we fit into that plan. Seeing this film prompted me to ask myself some big questions. It led me to prayer. I drove me with a great hunger to scripture, to discover again in the pages of the gospels exactly what Christ went through in giving himself for myself salvation. RISEN left me wanting to have bold conversations about big thoughts. I can’t wait to see the movie with my husband and sons–and to talk afterwards with them about what they saw and experienced and felt in their souls. And isn’t this the best thing a movie can do for our families?
Along with a masterful performance by Joseph Fiennes, other notable portrayals are turned in by Tom Felton (see my interview with the actor who plays Lucias here) and Maria Botto (Mary Magdalene). Close attention to location, scenery, and costuming combines with a sweeping score to give RISEN a real “blockbuster” feel. Sitting in the theater after my first screening of RISEN, my heart swept back to childhood field trips to see The Ten Commandments on the big screen. RISEN’s plot moves much more quickly, the action is more intense, and the effects are by far more advanced. But the feeling of “wow” that I remember having when watching Cecile B. DeMille’s classic rushed back into my heart while watching RISEN.
While believers will definitely find themselves seeking scriptural context for the action of this movie, this is also a great film to see with non-church-going friends and relatives. They will most definitely be caught up in the engaging plot and sensational action scenes, but I also have the feeling skeptics and the “spiritual but not religious” will be ready to discuss the profound questions this film brings up when the curtains drop and the credits roll. So plan ahead for an after-movie outing to chat. And maybe even bring your bible (or bible app!)
RISEN is a must see for this weekend. Tell a friend and buy tickets ASAP. We’d like this movie to sell out theaters and send a message. My guess is that if plenty of folks see this movie tomorrow, the pews at our churches will be not only fuller, but more full of inspiration and conviction this Sunday!
Interview with Joseph Fiennes:
Please note: Joseph Fiennes plays “Clavius”. A corrected version of this video is coming soon!
To get you excited for tomorrow’s release of RISEN, here’s the official trailer and an overview:
RISEN is the epic biblical story of the Resurrection and the weeks that followed, as seen through the eyes of an unbelieving Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman military tribune. Clavius and his aide, Lucius (Tom Felton), are instructed by Pontius Pilate to oversee the execution of Jesus of Nazareth, and to ensure that his radical followers don’t steal the body and claim resurrection. Despite the tomb’s protection by Roman guards, the body goes missing within days. Clavius is charged to locate the missing body in order to prevent an imminent uprising in Jerusalem. Only by finding the remains of Jesus can they disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah, allowing Rome to retain control of Judea. Along Clavius’ mission, however, his doubts of such a supernatural occurrence begin to fade as he encounters the apostles and other followers while piecing together the mysterious events that unfolded after the Crucifixion.
RISEN Key Players:
CAST INCLUDES: Joseph Fiennes (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, HERCULES), Tom Felton (HARRY POTTER), Peter Firth (THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, MI-5), and Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead).
DIRECTOR: Kevin Reynolds
SCREENPLAY BY: Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello
STORY BY: Paul Aiello
PRODUCERS: Mickey Liddell, Patrick Aiello, Pete Shilaimon