This rather impressive picture directed by Kevin Reynolds from a screenplay he co-wrote with Paul Aiello is the story of the crucifixion of Christ but told through the eyes of a Roman centurion by the name of Clavius who is well portrayed by Joseph Fiennes (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and Ralph Fiennes’ younger brother). Through witnessing the crucifixion then eyewitnessing the risen Christ, he has to try and reconcile what he’s seen with what his mind is telling him is impossible. Frankly I wasn’t really looking forward to this picture because I was perceiving it as another attempt by Hollywood to cash in on the Christian market which the Industry only took notice of (in recent years) after the astounding success of Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. What I found was a well made film, beautifully cast, with an attention to detail I found most impressive. The way the birds in the sky react when Christ is present after the Resurrection, the way no fish can be caught on the Sea of Galilee until Christ is spotted walking on the shore, the unexplained way Christ just disappears then reappears when needed. His beautiful interchange with his apostles and Mary Magdalene who obviously redefine what it means to be in love. One of the most impressive scenes is when Christ heals a leper near the end of the picture, but most importantly is the way Clavius is changed from a most tormented man to one who is finally at peace with himself.
The scene of the crucifixion after Christ has died with Clavius having been sent by Pontius Pilate to confirm the death is truly frightening. There is absolutely no doubt the man is dead so when He is seen by Clavius a short time later, it is jaw dropping in its intensity and the subtle way it was shot. It was almost like being there. The special effects are impressive but not overdone as is so often the case in this age of CGI (computer generated imagery), thus rendering the picture a feel of reality in the most peculiar of situations. As I have experienced things in my life that cannot be explained, I have often found the most powerful of circumstances being a relatively quiet thing. I also liked the way the filmmakers opted to use the ancient Hebrew term for Jesus Christ, Yeshua, thus again recreating a time that will never be experienced by any of us without faith to believe. The impressive cast includes Tom Felton (the Harry Potter films), Peter Firth (Pontius Pilate), Maria Botto (Mary Magdalene) and most impressively Cliff Curtis as Yeshua. **** 4 STARS