Clavius (Joseph Fiennes, left) warns Lucius (Tom Felton) to let them all pass, after he discovers him leading the apostles away from the Roman soldiers in a scene from the motion picture “Risen” /caption]
Latest Hollywood Movie “Risen” to be released on February 12 portrays Jesus’ resurrection from a completely different aspect. The movie focuses on the story through the eyes of a non-believer, a Roman military man tasked with finding Christ’s missing body in order to quash hopes among the Jews of a risen Saviour.
Directed by Kevin Reynolds, the Sony/AffirmFilms, “Risen” stars lead actor Joseph Fiennes, 44, (“Shakespeare in Love” and “Luther”) who delivers a credible portrayal of the fictional Roman Tribune, Clavius. Ordered by Pontius
Pilate (Peter Firth) to find Yeshua’s body and prove the empty tomb of “The Nazarene” to be no more than a hoax to “keep a crusade alive,” Clavius will stop at nothing to that end.
With the help of Lucius, Clavius works more like a detective to look for clues to find the missing body before he and he and Pontius Pilate face the wrath of Emperor Tiberius. Pilate commands the soldier to “find the corpse before it rots.”
“I love the detective element,” says Fiennes to reporters gathered at a screening of the film.
As a non-believer, it is both ironic and symbolic that Clavius is searching for Christ — interrogating Jews, and scouring Yeshua’s empty tomb in search of clues that might help his cause. What appears to be the controversial Shroud of Turin even makes an appearance in the movie, giving the film modern references to which moviegoers can relate.
The film’s “Roman mindset” was also fascinating, Fiennes says. “The philosophy, the bared sense of religion and gods and warfare,” Clavius often prays to Mars, the god of war, for help in locating Christ’s body.
Fiennes believes that viewers will be engaged by the scope of the movie. “There are few films, and I can’t think of any, that deal with the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension all in one.”
There were challenges in retelling the story while maintaining a delicate balance between Scripture, other content that had to be preserved, and the process of adaptation and fictionalization, Fiennes explains.
There was another, more physical, challenge in creating the film — the heat while on location in Malta. Soaring temps became problematic while shooting scenes in full armor.
“I was on a horse and in full leather … and it was over 100 degrees — and that was in the shade,” Fiennes says
“It’s important for an actor to kind of get as close to what it [conditions] might have been like. From what I read, no Roman [soldier] ever wanted to be posted in Judea. It [the heat] was brutal. And so having that kind of brutality on filming, you soak it up, you kind of use it.”
Will the film be praised by both believers and non-believers once it hits the theaters is a tricky question and can only be answered after the release of the film.