Risen | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


The Easter and Pentecost story is now a police procedural

I have to respect Risen for finding a new angle on an oft-told tale, namely the events during and after the crucifixion of Jesus. Kevin Reynolds has taken the Easter story, expanded it into Pentecost and re-positioned the narrative as a police procedural told from the perspective of a Roman tribune. 

click to enlarge I, Clavius: Joseph Fiennes
  • I, Clavius: Joseph Fiennes

For political reasons, Clavius (Joseph Fienne) is tasked by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to properly entomb Jesus and make sure his body isn’t stolen by his cult-like followers. But Sunday morning the tomb is empty save for the burial wrappings (an early cameo for future star The Shroud of Turin). So Clavius and his junior partner, Lucius (Tom Felton), scour Jerusalem, kicking in doors, interrogating witnesses and running down sightings of the dead man walking.

Most of you know how this story plays out, but in case you don’t, you won’t believe how it ends! Or, maybe you will. That’s the film’s true central narrative — the gradual conversion of the weary, cynical Mars-worshipping Clavius into a thoughtful man, ready to forgo all he has held important to follow a new path of faith (a.k.a. an early adopter of Christianity).

Reynold’s law-and-order take does make it more accessible to the layman, though Risen is absolutely marketed to the faithful. Just don’t take the whole family to this PG-13-rated Bible story without noting that the first third is pretty violent and bloody.



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