Risen: A Film about Jesus through the Eyes of a Roman

Just in time for the Christian holiday of Easter Ster Kinekor South Africa is releasing the film Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth and Cliff Curtis.

Risen, as you might have guessed, tells the biblical story of Jesus of Nazareth who died and inexplicably rose to life again, confounding the Jewish and Roman authorities in attendance at the time. Rather than a story about Jesus or Yeshua, though, Risen is the tale of one man’s response to Jesus: that of the Roman Tribune, Clavius (Fiennes).

Risen-www.cbn.com

Ralph Fiennes and Tom Felton in Risen. Photo: http://www.cbn.com

 

The film actually opens with Clavius presiding over his men quelling a small rebellion in the dusty land of Israel. Viewers get to see Roman battle tactics first hand; quite clever I thought, the way the soldiers advanced on the enemy using their shields. Bloody and battle worn, Clavius returns to headquarters only to be immediately summoned by Pilate who has a problem. Pilate has had to crucify a troublesome Jew at the insistence of the Jewish Sanhedrin and he asks Clavius to oversee proceedings to their conclusion. Clavius does so with characteristic efficiency. But when Jesus’ body is buried in a tomb, unlike other crucified victims who are simply turfed into an open common grave, complications arise. The body mysteriously disappears and Clavius is called upon to trace it, thereby keeping the peace and pacifying the Roman authorities.

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The life of Pompeii is preserved in Pompeii Live from the British Museum

A review by Brenda Daniels

Pompeii Live from the British Museum is the filmed version of an exhibition set in the British Museum. The exhibition is titled Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum and displays fascinating archaeological pieces unearthed from these two ancient Italian towns. The exhibition is “live” in the sense that a number of experts are interviewed at the museum where they explain the various exhibits.

Pompeii Live from the British Museum is not to be confused with the recently released Pompeii – a film currently on circuit in South African Ster Kinekor classic theatres.

So, just how thrilling could a film based on an exhibition be, you ask. Well, I think the subject of the exhibition is the draw card here. Pompeii is famous. In AD79 Mount Vesuvius erupted in spectacular fashion, engulfing this Roman-Italian town in 300 degree Celcius larva. The town was completely buried and partly uncovered only in modern times. Much of what was uncovered was recognisable and has therefore given twenty-first century citizens a glimpse into what life was like in that part of the Roman empire some 2000 years ago.

What the filmed exhibition does is breathe life into the archaeological items on display. So, real life – and people – in Roman times begin to emerge with the explanation of pieces of jewellery, cooking equipment, an intact loaf of bread, wall murals, street  signs and rooms in houses and public houses.

Herculaneum, a nearby but less well-known town, was also devastated by the volcano. Items shown from this town include wooden furniture turned to charcoal by the unimaginable heat.

My own interest in Pompeii began years ago when I read a historical fiction account of the event. I was amazed at how advanced a culture the Roman’s was. And then, in 2012 I visited Pompeii itself and saw firsthand a Roman road, complete with wagon wheel ruts, a brothel, a Roman baths and of course human bodies “frozen” at the moment of death.

Pompeii Live from the British Museum makes a very important point. The archaeological sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum are in danger of not being preserved. The experts in the documentary all agree on one thing: preserve what we have before digging for more.

I hope this film creates an awareness that will go some way to helping preserve this amazing piece of history. Of life.

The documentary releases in HD at the four digital Cinema Nouveau theatres in South Africa – Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg, Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria, Gateway in Durban and V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The exhibition will be screened for four shows only: 22, 26 and 27 March at 7.30pm and 23 March at 2.30pm. The film runs for one and a half hours.

 

Brenda Daniels outside what was then the ancient Roman fast food take away, just outside the theatre. (Photo: Roxanne Daniels)

Brenda Daniels outside what was then the ancient Roman fast food take away, just outside the theatre. (Photo: Roxanne Daniels)

One of the main streets of Pompeii,wagon wheel tracks are visible. The stepping stones were for pedestrians to use in order to avoid stepping into the sewage which ran down the road.  (Photo: Roxanne Daniels)
One of the main streets of Pompeii,wagon wheel tracks are visible. The stepping stones were for pedestrians to use in order to avoid stepping into the sewage which ran down the road. (Photo: Roxanne Daniels)