Spiritual Me

February 25, 2016

How the Movie Risen Shook my Thoughts


Last night after dinner my husband and I headed to the movie theater to watch the new movie Risen. My recent work schedule has kept me away from TV, so news of its production did not reach my radar. It was a nice surprise especially a good movie for Lent season. Here are the things I enjoyed the most about this movie:


1-      Joseph Fiennes’ performance as Clavius. He is also very handsome :)

2-      The cinematography

3-      The fact that I could feel the dirt on my body. I could almost smell the stench of dead corpses and the heat. Recent faith-based productions have not managed to do this, for they felt detached and sets were too.. staged. All I saw were actors performing a Christian scene like in a school play. It did not take me there like Risen did.

4-      The cast. The apostles’ doubts and fears, but most interestingly their crazy joy. Like someone drunk with euphoria; a euphoria that unexplainably flowed from their hearts and minds. Too amazing to assimilate. Surreal. But the most interesting cast member was the actor who portrayed Jesus of Nazareth. And that’s where my story begins.

Because like I mentioned before, I had not read a single review of this movie I was not aware of the not-so-typical portrayal of Jesus Christ. In the movie, Jesus is somewhat ordinary. Black hair, black eyes and darker skin than we have seen before. The image challenged my own perception of Jesus’ likeness, for just a few weeks ago I painted “My one and only” in the way “I” imagine Him. How could this be?  People are not going to respond to this was my first thought. I can almost go as far as to say this Jesus was making me uncomfortable. But why? I think it was because it was not “my” Jesus. What does Jesus Christ really look like? I remember a TV show where scientists, after careful study of the shroud of Turin, produced a digital image of what Jesus would have looked like. It was an interesting hypothesis but the truth is we don’t really know that much.

My Acrylic Painting of "My One and Only" Jesus Christ.

My Acrylic Painting of “My One and Only” Jesus Christ. January 2016

Catholics know about the image of our Lady of Guadalupe who appeared to native Mexican Juan Diego, and we have come to believe – I don’t really know exactly why – that she appeared as a dark skinned woman to sort of “blend” with Juan Diego’s people. “She doesn’t really look like that” I was thought at one point during my childhood years in Catholic school. But what if she did? Her image is the only palpable image we have of the mother of Jesus. But that’s another story. My point is why was I feeling uncomfortable about this Jesus. He looked too ordinary is the best response I can find. My sister reminded me about Isaiah 53:2 where it says: He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”

I do believe the director is sending out a strong message. As I dug deeper into my thoughts with hopes of appeasing them, for I was not comfortable feeling this way, I thought about the world we live in and the stories of prejudice against those of darker skin and certain features or ethnicity. I turned to prayer asking for guidance and the first thing that came to my mind was a bible verse found on Matthew 25:34-40 that says:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

As we returned home, I went straight to the computer in search of movie reviews and opinions. I wanted to know what others thought of this movie. On the Flixter app I found a review by Jim Slotex of the Toronto Sun that says: “ But it’s nice to finally see the Messiah portrayed by somebody who’d probably get extra attention at a U.S. airport by Homeland Security.”  I think he nailed it.

I really like this movie for all the reasons listed above, but mostly because it forced me to confront my thoughts and direct them in the right direction. It forced me to stop and examine my conscience. But that is not always what we look forward to when we go to the movies is it?

Movie Risen

Movie Risen


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About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and my spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .

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