I recently watched the movie Risen, and I thought I might give my opinion on it. It's the story of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection as witnessed by a Roman tribune named Clavius (Joseph Fiennes). Overall, I think it was a pretty good movie - B+. However, there were a few spots I thought were lacking.
The main thing that bothered me was the attempt to make Jesus a "buddy" of the disciples and mute His deity. Of course, I believe the disciples enjoyed a good friendship with Jesus, and Jesus Himself called them His friends. But He was also their Master, their God. While that aspect wasn't entirely missing as it was in the new Ben Hur movie, it was diminished. The main way this is discerned is by examining where the story deviates from the Bible. I'm not talking about the purely fictional aspects of the movie, such as the doings of Clavius. No, I'm talking about when the movie includes a scene that is specifically described in the Bible and deviates from it.
For example, the movie depicts the scene where Thomas sees Jesus after the resurrection. In the movie, Thomas rushes into the room where Jesus sits and collapses in His arms saying, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!
"Why are you sorry, Thomas?" asks Jesus.
"Because I left you!"
Jesus comforts him. "It's all right. You see that I'm alive and well, don't you?"
Now let's read what really happened in John 20:19-29:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
That's a whale of a difference, wouldn't you say? First, Thomas does not come to Jesus, Jesus comes to Thomas through a locked door. Second, Thomas is not exacly open to the idea of resurrection, but we need not judge him too harshly. As is often noted, "Thomas doubted so that none need doubt." Finally, and this is most important, Thomas worships Jesus.
While that was probably the biggest deviation, the whole movie was tinged with this sort of humanist viewpoint.
There was an odd scene that rang pretty false with me. Jesus heals a leper, and the leper trudges away with nary a ripple of emotion, his skin whole and healthy. I don't know what kind of drama the filmmakers were trying to present, but I thought it was ridiculous.
But there was an excellent scene toward the end of the movie. Earlier, Pilate asks Clavius about his hopes for his future. Clavius says he hopes to retire to a large estate in the country with plenty of wealth and power.
"For what purpose?" asks Pilate.
The battle-weary Clavius replies, "Certainty...security...a day without death."
Later, Clavius sits alone with Jesus on a hillside one night, and confesses to Him, "I was there when You died. I...helped."
Then the risen Lord says, "What are you looking for Clavius? Certainty...security..." and then with a smile, "...a day without death?"
All in all I thought it a movie well worth seeing.