Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when walking into “Risen.” Promotional material for the film made it seem like a religious “faith-seeking” movie, yet its premise in a nutshell sounds as if it would be a more traditional story, just set around the time of the crucifixion of Christ.
I definitely kept that in mind when I sat down to watch it and was surprised when it walked the line of both ideas. The result was an enjoyable movie.
The story is simply the resurrection of Christ, but from the view point of the Romans. To the movie’s credit, it is an angle that I have never seen before and made for an interesting interpretation. Seeing how the Romans justify a man coming back from the dead and how they deal with this supposed messiah made up some of the best parts of the film.
The first half of the movie is the main character trying to find a body, since the Romans believed it to be a hoax by Christ’s followers to start rebellion. This first half is the more original part and will hold most viewer’s attention. The second half does however take a bit of a left turn.
With only minor spoilers, the protagonist finds Christ alive about halfway through the film.
At that point, the story switches from the Romans trying to find a body to a nonbeliever witnessing Christ’s miracles first hand. That may sound very preachy but “Risen” surprisingly keeps the “preachiness” of the message to a minimum.
The movie makes it obvious that this is not a Christian film that tries to make you follow their beliefs, but is a story simply set around these events.
A good example of this is the portrayal of Christ in the movie. He is not shown as a white, chestnut brown haired, perfect man. Instead, he is shown as a normal person who would’ve lived in that area of the world around that time. Darker skin, dirty, short hair and a more realistic looking body type. They also never call him Jesus or even Christ, but by his Hebrew name.
Even the ending, which won’t be spoiled here, doesn’t go for the “finding the light” storyline that other religious films about nonbelievers do. “Risen” goes for a more realistic idea that some events can change people’s point of view, or at least make them question themselves and how they see the world.
Overall, the film is enjoyable and doesn’t offend the audience, whether religious or not. If you were worried “Risen” would be about a “message,” take solace in the fact that it is not like that. “Risen” is a good film, and manages to tell a story about a specific religious event without being too preachy.