Rise, Rose, Risen, Risible

DATELINE: See Galilee, See!

Firth & Fiennes

Peter Firth & Joseph Fiennes

We aren’t sure if we are doing a declension or a derision. We expected to give a disbeliever’s rap, but ended up intrigued.

It is a topic to be handled differently in light of all those holy roller Easter epics. We thought perhaps this film, Risen, might take an interesting opposite viewpoint—the pagan Roman opinion of Jesus.

Indeed, Risen is a mystery film in which Pontius Pilate is distressed to hear that a man he ordered crucified has promised to resurrect. Pains must be taken to prevent such a staged event from undercutting the Roman Empire.

Pilate takes the form of Peter Firth, once the beautiful young man who worshipped horses in Equus. Now, he is paunchy and bald as the prefect of Judea. His right hand man is Clavius (Joseph Fiennes, in earnest form), a tribune given the duty of investigating the disappearance of the body of Jesus.

He rounds up the usual suspects, but they are so filled with glad tidings that they are given over to a case of schoolgirl giggles whenever they talk about the risen Christ.

Well over half the movie tries to take the skeptical Roman position, but the production is from a Bible production company. The general details of the movie are popular agreements of the facts in the life of Jesus, and that includes having the Roman tribune see the risen Jesus and rattle his faith in Mars.

Well-produced, and even having moments of humor, the film goes against the grain of many Jesus movies. It holds one’s interest even on the road to Galilee and the expected resurrection.