Sunday, April 16, 2017

Risen (2016)

Year 9, Day 106 - 4/16/17 - Movie #2,600

BEFORE: My new rule allowed me to program three Easter films, instead of just one, with Jesus and Pontius Pilate carrying over from last night, and this way I've also rescued two New Testament-based films from the unlinkables section.   As a bonus, this one appears to pick up exactly where "The Passion of the Christ" left off, to show the aftermath of the Crucifixion.  And by telling the story through the P.O.V. of a Roman tribune, it's also an apt follow-up to "The Robe", so I have to be happy with the way this chain fell together.

It's funny, I watched "The Revenant" just about a week ago, and that was another film with a man rising from a grave and returning to life (but in a different way) and I didn't make the connection until  just now...

THE PLOT: In 33 AD, a Roman tribune in Judea is tasked with finding the missing body of an executed Jew rumored to have risen from the dead.

AFTER: If the format to this film seems a little familiar, it's probably because they super-imposed some tropes familiar to a modern police investigation right on to the story of the Resurrection.  Clavius, the tribune in question here, is charged with interviewing people who may have knowledge of who broke into Jesus' tomb, and then those who claim to have interacted with the risen Jesus.  He's working for Pilate, who's trying to appease Caiaphas, because both the Romans and the Jews seem to have this uncanny knowledge about how bad it would be for their societies if Jesus was proven to be the Messiah.

As with "The Robe", the one Roman tribune that was present at Jesus' execution, the one who saw the skies darken and felt the earth quake, is the one who seems to be most affected by it in the long run - but this time it's not an article of clothing that changes the man, it's interacting with Jesus' disciples and eventually, the appearance of Jesus himself, or so it seems.  While no proper explanation is offered for the miracle that seems to have taken place, up until that point the film's best explanation for what happened is that the Roman guards outside the tomb had a bit too much to drink, and Jesus' followers took that opportunity to break in and steal the body so they could claim he was resurrected.

So there's some creative license with the Bible's story here, but I've long suspected that the Bible's story itself took quite a few liberties too, because saying that things just don't add up is an understatement.  If the resurrected Jesus was such a threat to the Roman Empire, why not just have him killed again?  And just how reliable were the accounts of those who saw him after the fact?  And is there any possible medical explanation for a crucified man getting up again after three days in a (let's say) death-like condition?  One could surmise that if the earth was quaking and a storm was raging, it's possible that haste was involved in that burial, and perhaps not much attention was paid to proper examination of his body.

When viewed from another angle, the burial of Jesus can be seen as a form of a magic trick - a common trick involves a magician putting on a mask, getting into a box, and then appearing a few seconds later in the back of the theater.  That's not much different from putting a shroud on a body, putting that body in a tomb, and then having it appear outside the tomb.  Now, I've trained myself to figure out how many magic tricks are done, through a combination of skepticism, common sense and google searches - if a magician tells me what's about to happen, the one thing I know is that something else is about to happen.  For example, in that trick of the magician appearing to escape from the box, there could be a secret exit out of the box, the use of the mask could indicate that a switch has been made and the person getting into the box is not the magician, or if neither of these is true, then the guy at the back of the theater could be the magician's twin.  Any or all of these are possible.

So my rational mind searches for a way to reconcile the Bible's story with reality (though it's potentially futile, because we'll never know, and anyway it's probably just a story).  The tomb was a cave, so maybe there was another way in.  A shroud was placed over Jesus, maybe this indicates that a switch was made, and the body placed in the tomb wasn't even him.  Or maybe the person seen walking around three days later was a look-alike, some have speculated maybe even a younger brother. Any or all of these are possible, but I'm just speculating, I wasn't there.

Oh, yes, Jesus had brothers and sisters, though the Catholic Church wants people to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary, they're rarely talked about.  But when Peter left Jerusalem, it was Jesus' brother James who led the early Christian Church in Jerusalem.  Look it up if you don't believe me, but here I get to say "the Bible tells me so" because Paul's Letter to the Galatians refers to "James, the Lord's brother". Plus, why would the gospel of Luke refer to Jesus as the "first-born son of Mary" unless there were others?  So it's possible that this whole resurrection thing is just a giant metaphor, anyway, for the life of the Church under the leadership of James in the 1st Century.  (See, this is why I'm not allowed back in church any more...)

Starring Joseph Fiennes (last seen in "Enemy at the Gates"), Tom Felton (last seen in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"), Peter Firth (last seen in "Amistad"), Cliff Curtis (last seen in "Six Days Seven Nights"), Stewart Scudamore (last seen in "Kick-Ass 2"), Stephen Hagan, Maria Botto, Luis Callejo, Antonio Gil (last seen in "Twice Upon a Yesterday"), Andy Gathergood, Mish Boyko (last seen in "Dracula Untold"), Jan Cornet, Joe Manjon, Pepe Lorente, Stavros Demetraki, Selva Rasalingam, Manu Fullola, Mario Tardon, Stephen Greif.

RATING: 4 out of 10 wax seals

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