Sunday, March 27, 2016

The best Christian film ever made: Risen

After you attend an uplifting Easter service this morning, and then eat way too much at Grandma's house, what will you do for the afternoon?

Let me make a suggestion to all my readers...while it is still in theaters, go catch the movie Risen. It
is, without doubt, the best Christian film ever made--and we want Hollywood to make many, many more like it.

The best Christian film ever made...I know that doesn't sound like high praise to many of you, because frankly...Christian films usually aren't very good.

Some have great heart, but poor production value--movies like Fireproof, Courageous, Facing the Giants, and God's Not Dead, are unquestionably much lower quality than a typical Hollywood film. They lack the top-notch writing, direction, budgets, and acting of most films.

Others have top-notch talent attached, but portray the subject wrongly, either with massive historical/theological inaccuracies (Noah, Gods and Kings) or with excessive focus on something sensationalistic in the story (The Passion of the Christ).

To be honest, I had always said that Jesus' story was too amazing, too powerful, to be handled head-on. It was best handled by allegory. I have often argued that the Christ-story was so world changing that, like Dickinson's poem, this was a truth that had to be told slant..."the Truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind."  As such, I thought, a major motion picture focused on Jesus must careen into either inaccuracy or melodrama.

The only ones that would work, I thought, were those that told it slant--films like Chronicles of Narnia, which tell the Jesus story allegorically.

And then I saw Risen last week.

Christians, I can't recommend it highly enough. This is what we want in a Christian film, and I hope the Studios hear us. Vote for this with your dollars--something I never say.

Risen stars Joseph Fiennes (Flashforward, Camelot) as the tribune of Pontius Pilate, a hardened and serious military commander. He and his new trainee, Tom Felton (Harry Potter series, Draco Malfoy himself) are called in at the end of the Crucifixion.

The Jewish leaders--aware of Yeshua's prophesy to rise from the dead--are concerned that His disciples will steal His body and fake a resurrection. They secure the body with a Roman Seal and armed guards.

But--2,000 year old spoiler alert!--Yeshua doesn't stay in the tomb. He rises.  And Pilate is terrified, with the Emperor on the way, that any doubts be put down immediately.

Hence the start of Risen, which is best described perhaps as CSI: Judea. Witnesses are interviewed, bribes given, evidence reviewed, all in an attempt to figure out what really happened?

It is a great film, for many reasons:

  • Production values are top-notch, Hollywood quality.
  • The direction is good; everyone in the theater I was at, from the 8-year olds to the 80-year olds, were interested the entire time.
  • Finally, Jesus (Yeshua) looks like He really would have, portrayed by Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead)
  • Character development was interesting. The Tribune was seeking military promotion to Rome, in order to receive land, in order to receive peace; he believed this was the only way to achieve peace of mind. Yet among the disciples he finds the same thing offered in a radically different way. 

Go see it today, and support the best Christian film ever put on the screen.

(Note - it was a bit intense at the beginning, through the Crucixion--although it was nothing like The Passion. I was not sorry to have brought my 8 year old.)

(Note: Heston's Ten Commandments is not a Christian film; it is a Jewish one. As such I didn't include that in here, as it deals only with Moses. I am referring to stories of The Christ today. Likewise, although Ben Hur does in the end witness the crucifixion, I still wouldn't consider that a Christian movie per se, as we never actually see His face, hear His voice, or deal at all with how He impacted the world; rather it is the--quite good--story of someone who is alive at the same time and somewhat intersects Jesus' life.)

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