On February 27, I worked up the nerve to ride the bus to the Memorial City theater. Its schedule and mine didn’t jibe too well, but I did manage to see Risen. I had also hoped to see Gods of Egypt, but I will have to postpone that treat.
Risen was far better than I expected. I saw several similarities to The Robe, but this film can stand on its own. The only cast member I recognized was Joseph Fiennes as a physically and morally exhausted Roman tribune, but this is not the sort of film with which I associate him.
There are several discrepancies from Roman history and the Gospels: Barabbas is executed on the battlefield and never makes it to Jerusalem; Judas is never mentioned even though there is a reference to a gap in the ranks of the disciples; Simon Peter makes no reference to a little matter of denying Christ; and, the film ends with Tiberius Caesar arriving to see what is really going on in Judea. Pontius Pilate does his share of hand washing, but I am glad to note that the film did not, as in the 1930s version of The Last Days of Pompeii, end with Pilate hurling himself into Vesuvius nearly fifty years after the crucifixion.
Very few films about Christ go into details about what happens after the Resurrection; they usually end with an off-stage choir singing something from Handel and not much else. This film does include the appearance to the disciples, complete with Doubting Thomas, the move of the disciples to Galilee, and the Ascension.
There are some very effective scenes, particularly the healing of a leper and the depiction of Golgotha as a truly horrid place. Fiennes’s exhausted tribune survives, which leaves room for a sequel.