It has long been a prayer of my heart that there would be a Jesus Film that speaks the heart language of our culture. That prayer has just been answered in the film Risen.
Joseph Fiennes (Luther) plays Clavius, a Roman tribune, who is charged with finding the body of Yeshua (the Jewish name for Jesus). He worships Mars, but during his investigation he encounters followers of Yeshua who seem to truly believe that He is risen from the dead. At one point he goes to the statue of the god Mars and says he's not praying to Mars but to Yahweh. Of course his prayer, at that point, is against the will of Yahweh. Later he goes to the statue of Mars and, in one of the finer moments for the award-winning actor, sees it for the metal that it is.
I think the best acting actually comes from one of the guards, telling the story he's been paid not to tell. I found it much more compelling than a CGI recreation of what could never be captured for a film: The Resurrection.
Peter Greif, who plays Caiphas, played the Danish King Guthrum in The Dragon and the Raven. I got to perform two scenes with him in London. In one I served his character, and in the other he crushed my second character's neck. The protogé of Sir Laurence Olivier is almost as fierce in Risen, as he presses Pilate (played with layers by Peter Firth) for favors to prevent the true story from being released to the "weak." The word is a beautiful counterpoint to strong Clavius, following, by turns, what his eyes and mind cannot reconcile.
My prayer was answered for the film to be created. Now I'll keep praying that the Lord uses it to reach our cynical generation.
There's a beautiful moment when Clavius is interviewing a blind woman (played insightfully by Margaret Jackman). He asks her, "Are you a follower of Yeshua or a follower of a follower?"
If you've only followed followers of Yeshua this movie is for you, too. Seek the Son of God and you shall find Him.
Risen is rated PG-13 for war violence (some showing Roman warfare), crucifixion and several dead bodies unearthed at various stages of decay.
Here's what I said about it in this morning's service at Westchester Chapel:
Hear our whole service by clicking here.