Risen: A Serious, Thoughtful Review

I saw “Risen” Friday night.  I highly recommend it: not the religious experience “The Passion of the Christ” was, but enjoyable and often moving.  It could have been titled “C.S.I. Jerusalem”.  Joseph Fiennes is in every scene, and he holds the movie together.  I wish there would have been some backstory to his character, but he obviously cared about the part and he commands the screen, despite being told “Pilate wishes to see you” about 300 times.  Besides Pilate, all the other characters – even Jesus – were bit players.  Pilate was played by Peter Firth (The Hunt for Red October), and didn’t do much with the part, going for world-weary and cynical.  My gold standard for Pilate will always be Rod Steiger in “Jesus of Nazareth”, an actor that never failed to leave teeth marks on the scenery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtSz-DxGFmI

Jesus was played by Cliff Curtis, who adds to the great cinematic tradition of “Mellow Jesus”, a la Jeffery Hunter and Max Von Sydow.  Hard to imagine this Jesus haranguing the Pharisees or putting the Atomic Elbow Drop down on a moneychanger, but maybe rising from the dead does smooth you out.  Peter and Mary Magdalene also were also pet peeves: the former being portrayed as aged and fat; the latter as a prostitute.  Peter was in his mid to late 30s at the time of the Crucifixion, and being a rugged fisherman was probably a pretty imposing dude.  None of the grief you know he had to be experiencing right after Jesus’ death is evident.  History suggests Mary Magdalene was a woman of position and means, not of the mean streets as she’s traditionally portrayed.  The producers apparently didn’t want to confuse the issues with facts.

I really liked the movie, but my biggest problem with it was Pilate’s toga being in a wad about the Emperor’s impending visit to Jerusalem.  It made me think back to “Hogan’s Heroes” when Colonel Klink was always in high anxiety about a potential visit from Major Hochstetter of the Gestapo.  Not only is there no evidence of the historicity of such a visit, but it would be similar to President Obama visiting Fitzgerald, GA just to see how things were going there.  Also, if that was “the” Barabbas at the beginning, he must have taken the Judean bullet train out to where the other zealots were going mano a mano with Clavius and his merry men.  (btw, I played the clavius in our high school band).  I was asked if Clavius was a real person, and I replied that he was prominently mentioned in the apocryphal Gospel of Fred, which was excluded from the biblical canon at the Council of Lower Antioch (suburb of Antioch, at which the Holy Hand Grenade was declared orthodox) in 275 A. D.

Another burning question: what did the Romans get out of conquering Palestine anyway?  Was it just because they were Romans, and conquering was what they did? (Sort of like Geico?) The Romans were the New England Patriots of their day, and Bill Belichick would have been a more animated Pilate than Peter Firth, but I digress.  Doesn’t seem like Palestine had any strategic value; maybe it was all the free pistachios.  Love Roman names though; mine would be Lurchus Aroundus (Guillain-Barre Syndrome joke).

And finally, what was going on with Joseph Fiennes’ lip?

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/BXJ6cw9lwA0/maxresdefault.jpg

Was that make-up, his only wound from the Barabbas dust-up?  Or did he take a cricket ball in the jib right before shooting?  These are the things that keep me up at night wondering.

 

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