Is “Risen”, the new faith film about the aftermath of Jesus’ Resurrection, the new “The Passion of the Christ”? It’s being billed that way by those hoping to repeat “The Passion’s” great success. The answer is no, it’s not. Because if it were, you’d have heard about it already, in the way that “The Passion” had almost a year’s worth of marketing, publicity and – yes – controversy, prior to its release on 25 February 2004. “Risen” rises on 19 February 2016 both here in Australia and internationally. We can only assume the closeness of these two release dates – late February – is no coincidence.
From the Jewish perspective, the concern about any New Testament film is how Jews are portrayed. There is a long history of film’s showing a direct or implied guilt cast on the Jews for the death of Jesus, despite efforts of the Catholic Church from the 1965 Nostra Aetate onwards.
In a January 22, 2016 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Rich Paluso, Senior Vice President of Affirm, Sony’s faith-based production arm (which financed “Risen”), says of “Risen”:
They are intrigued by the story of what happened, the birth of Christianity and the fact that the infrastructure of Judea, both the Sanhedrin and the Jewish leadership and the Roman leadership were all about crushing this man and crushing His followers. So that automatically lends them credibility.
The official Sony website avoids references to “Jewish leadership”, describing this film as:
“Risen” is the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a powerful Roman Military Tribune, and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton), are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumours of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.
“Risen” is directed and co-written by Kevin Reynolds, known for his collaborations with Kevin Costner (“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”), followed by a major falling out over “Waterworld”. This caused Reynolds famously to say, “”Kevin should only star in movies he directs. That way he can work with his favourite actor and director”.
Trivia: Rich Paluso’s “three success habits” , according to an interview with The Door Post:
1. Always take notes.
2. Always return everyone’s phone call even if you don’t know them.
3. Always do what you say you are going to do.
(DP comment: good habits, those.)
(image from the film below)