Risen: Movie Review
(NOTE: SPOILER ALERT)
Yesterday, a friend and I went to see the movie Risen. The movie is a fictional account of how the resurrection of Jesus Christ might be seen through the eyes of Clavius, a battle weary Roman military officer who took part in Jesus’s crucifixion. In this regard, the movie is quite unique and the filmmakers do a terrific job in character and plot development, visual effects, and the actors provide a compelling performance.
However, while I understand the need to extend some creative license to the filmmakers, my eyes start to twitch when I watch scenes that blatantly conflict with the Biblical account. To portray Mary Magdalene as a prostitute after decades of scholars trying to set the record straight is …well, pure laziness. But what bothered me even more was that the movie leaves open the impression that she may have remained a prostitute even after becoming a disciple of Jesus. The message of the gospel is centered on God’s unconditional love and how that love transforms us so that we are never the same again. I am not convinced that the Mary in this movie got the message.
Near the end of the movie, we see a truly touching scene where Jesus heals a diseased-ridden leper. If the scene were properly placed prior to the Resurrection, it would have been absolutely beautiful. However, the scene is placed after the Resurrection, when no such miracles occurred. One of the primary purposes for Jesus displaying His power to heal prior to the Resurrection was to prove Who He was.
Jesus Himself said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works [miracles] themselves.” (John 14:10-11 ESV)
After Jesus rises from the dead, no more miracles are needed; the miracle of the Resurrection is the miracle of all miracles. If that doesn’t convince someone that He was Who He said He was, nothing will. (This is not to say that God does not heal today; rather, that while Jesus was on earth, His miracles served a specific purpose: To prove He was Who He claimed to be.)
There are other curious scenes as well but at the end of the day, the movie is intended as a fictional account. In summary, Risen beautifully captures the message that the love of Jesus extends to everyone: even those who took part in nailing Him to the Cross which, in reality, is every one of us. The Bible teaches us that Jesus “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.“ (1 John 2:2 NIV) Risen is entertaining and thought-provoking. If it piques the interest of viewers to explore the Bible for themselves, then it has done its job.
Rating for entertainment and quality: 4 stars.
Rating for Biblical accuracy: 1 star (at least they got the Resurrection right 😉
Were you blessed by this post? Perhaps it will bless others as well. The greatest encouragement I receive is when someone takes the message God gave me to write – and shares it with others 🙂