The movie “Risen” is only days away from opening on February 19, 2016 and has generated a lot of interest from the fact it’s a story about Jesus Christ told from an agnostic’s point of view, according to a recent article in Christianity Today. Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love and Luther) plays the unique role of a Roman centurion who is assigned by an anxious Pilate to find the body of Jesus after he’s crucified on the cross. For those who haven’t read a Bible recently, Jesus is raised from the dead and ascends to heaven where he’s re-united with his Father. So Clavius is not going to find the body of Jesus anywhere on this planet.
Part of the attraction of this film directed by Kevin Reynolds is that it’s told from the angle of a non-believer who can only help his career in the Roman army by proving Jesus is still dead. And he’s a long distance from being a believer based on the fact the Romans worship numerous gods having nothing to do with Christ. As Clavius continues his investigation he senses there may be more to this case than he had been led to believe by Pontius Pilate. In an interview with Christianity Today, Fiennes discussed such diverse subjects as attending gladiator school and the nature of belief. Fiennes told CT that he was attracted by the idea looking into the story of Christ through the eyes of a non-believer or an agnostic.
Fiennes will also do an interview with Eric Metaxas today, Wednesday, February 17, 2016 about his role in the film. Fiennes interview will can be heard today on The Eric Metaxas Show which emanates from the Empire State Building in New York City. Metaxas has seen an earlier version of the movie and has praised it, saying, “They don’t make movies like this. This is more than a religious movie. It is a great movie.”
“Risen” is the latest release of Affirm films, a branch of Sony Pictures Entertainment that produces and distributes faith-based movies that frequently yield huge returns to its investors. It has previously produced “War Room” for a budget of only $3 million. It grossed $67.8 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo. Fiennes was coy when asked about what he thought his character’s state of mind was at the end of the movie, perhaps not wanting to give away too much before audiences see thee film for themselves.
He did say Clavius was in a difficult situation at the end of the movie. If he sides with the Christians then Pilate is going to be a little bit more than ticked off at him. But if he tries to stay in the Roman army he’s going to have to overcome the failed investigation. After all, Clavius is faced with a more difficult case than Philip Marlow or Sam Spade ever encountered in the “Maltese Falcon.”
Representatives of the film have said pre-release audiences including non-believers have reacted favorably to the movie so hopes are high. Many people who’ve seen it are attracted to the fact it’s not a movie where people leave the theater feeling like they’ve been preached at. Agnostic viewers can identify with fellow non-believer Clavius as he tries to sort out the mystery of the last days on earth of Jesus.
Clavius begins to realize this investigation will have unexpected difficulties when he interviews Mary Magdalene. He becomes frustrated with her answers as they don’t yield the information for which he was hoping. Movie viewers should take advantage of perhaps their last opportunity to see Fiennes discuss the movie on The Eric Metaxas Show today. If Metaxas is on his game unexpected areas of discourse will be explored during that show.