Risen is the product of a sub-industry whose primary source of success is in providing pious pablum for a complacent and undiscriminating Christian market (although, to be fair, this market is not made up solely of complacent and undiscriminating viewers, nor are complacency and a lack of discrimination characteristics only of Christian moviegoers), yet throughout the film there is an explicit attempt to challenge the certitudes of its core audience. At times, Risen does indeed resemble an open-ended investigation. This is unsurprising, give how closely the conversion narrative here has been patterned after the police procedural in its attempt to bring about the resolution of ambiguities. At other times, however, the film is more clearly a work of advocacy, with the viewer never in any genuine doubt about the absolute factuality of Christ’s resurrection – the film’s title, after all, is not so much a spoiler as it is a sign of reassurance to the usual Affirm consumer that the issue of Christ’s resurrection will not be subject to any lasting critique.
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Every dramatic re-enactment of the Passion reflects the tenor of its times, and Sony Affirm’s 2016 film Risen is no exception, projecting onto the story from first-century Roman Judaea the cultural issues of the United States in the early twenty-first century. The film tells the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection, but it is very much an imaginative product of contemporary America. Ours is an era in which wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places have seemed nearly constant; in which confidence in the credibility of mainstream Christianity has been steadily eroding;1 and in which the most consistently popular form of televised entertainment has been the police procedural.2 According to a synopsis of the plot included in the production’s press-kit,
RISEN is an epic biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and the weeks following, through the eyes of the unbelieving Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman military officer. Clavius and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton) are assigned by Pontius Pilate to ensure that Jesus’ radical followers can’t steal his body and claim a resurrection. Within days, however, the body is missing, putting Clavius on a mission to find it to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and to prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.3
Abroad, contemporary Americans face a steady supply of hostilities that evidently cannot be stanched, while at home, traditional religious beliefs seem unequal to the anxieties of the present day. In the meantime, the fascination with scientific detective work as depicted on TV has given rise to a widespread belief in the “CSI Effect,” a phenomenon that “incorrectly depicts forensic science as this juggernaut of infallibility.”4 Risen builds on these contemporary cultural trends in its presentation of the ancient story, offering a forensic drama with a skeptical investigator set in the midst of a seemingly unending conflict in the Mideast (though the causes of contemporary conflicts in the Mideast do not get any genuine consideration). But above all, Risen represents an important development of the faith-based film – one engaging openly with issues of doubt – which demonstrates how this particular genre has matured beyond its own pronounced (and profitable) tendency toward banality and oversimplification. Whether Risen in fact escapes from that tendency remains to be seen, as it has not made much of an inroad into the mainstream, but it has perhaps laid the groundwork for films yet to come from the evangelical industry.
To be sure, Risen is a Christian movie, or perhaps it is better to say, a movie produced for a certain Christian audience within a certain Christian cultural context. How that audience and its context have been identified and marketed to in recent years is worth foregrounding: here we should look more closely at Affirm, the Sony subsidiary that produced Risen. According to the company’s online Mission Statement, Affirm is
[d]edicated to producing, acquiring, marketing and distributing films which inspire, uplift, and entertain audiences . . . Sony Pictures launched AFFIRM Films in 2007 to meet the increasing demands from audiences looking for quality, mainstream films that reflect their spiritual beliefs and values. . . . AFFIRM Films acquires faith-based and inspirational content across a wide range of genres and budgets for the various global distribution platforms at [Sony] including theatrical, television, and home entertainment.5
There are a few things worth extrapolating here. To begin with, note that Affirm came into being in the mid-2000s, as did a few other production companies geared toward this demographic, a development almost entirely owing to the phenomenal success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Hollywood insiders had been initially doubtful about Gibson’s project, but when Passion made over $600 million in box office receipts (versus the $30 million it had cost to produce), executives at all the major studios concluded that perhaps they could find a way to serve both God and Mammon.6 Consequently, companies like Affirm, Pure Flix, and others came into being, geared toward an American evangelical niche in the market that was looking for entertainment products that those in the industry call the “faith-and-family” category. Viewers in this demographic see themselves as combatants in a culture war; convinced that mainstream culture is implacably opposed to their religious convictions, they are an eager audience for films that cater to, validate, and indeed affirm “their spiritual beliefs and values.”7
There is nothing especially new about films being made from a Christian perspective, of course – one thinks of the many Bible-based epics of the 1950s – but a principal difference between movies like The Robe and Quo Vadis and faith-based features made by Affirm and other companies like Heaven Is For Real, God’s Not Dead, The War Room, and God’s Not Dead 2 is the matter of scale. Indeed, in the twenty-first century, big budgets tend to work against movies that espouse values of this sort, at least for the U.S. market. Tim Stanley reported on this phenomenon for the Telegraph recently in an article titled “Has Hollywood Finally Found God?” As he writes,
Christian movies are one of the very few genres of film that people go to with the intention of enjoying them whether they objectively suck or not. And their flaws actually affirm that they’re not slick Hollywood products from the liberal stable. Just like Donald Trump’s gaffes prove he’s no PC shill, so bad acting in Christian movies proves that they’re not being cranked out by godless socialists.8
In other words, the poor production values and shoddy dialogue of these features somehow signal to the core viewership the bona fides of the film’s religious commitments and lead to commercial success. In a prime example of the first shall be last and the last shall be first, low-budget fare from Affirm and other like-minded companies generate substantial returns on investment. Recent big-tickets items like Ridley Scott’s Moses movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, lost $80 million in the domestic market, however, and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah lost close to $25 million, though each more than made up their losses overseas. In virtually the same time-frame, Heaven Is For Real made an 850% profit, though it was rightly dismissed as a piece of Sunday School propaganda, while the ham-fisted God’s Not Dead, despite its being “about as subtle as a stack of Bibles falling on your head” (in Variety’s words), made an over 3000% profit.9
Among evangelically focused production companies, such profit is not without honor, of course, and the companies making cheaply produced faith-based ventures have been largely unconcerned about getting the approval on aesthetic or any other grounds of the non-Christian critic or moviegoer. But while the payoff is often very high for such productions, the originality and imagination are just as often very low. The point is put strongly by an executive in the faith-based film industry, Aspiration Media founder Erik Lokkesmoe:
The faith-film category has come to mean agenda-driven, fear-driven, low-quality, low-budget, on-the-nose, teaching, industrial films that willingly overlook excellence and story because they know they can. . . . They have trained an audience to expect trite, theologically thin, bumper-sticker movies, designed for church outings.10
Studio heads all over the entertainment world are looking to make money. But those on the creative side are generally interested in making art, and this tension is felt in the Christian film industry just as it is everywhere else in Hollywood. In a 2014 article about this issue for the entertainment website The Wrap, the president of another Christian media company EchoLight, Jeff Sheets, remarked,
We don’t want to make cheesy movies; we use the word “authentic” a lot. . . . If you weren’t a Christian, I’d want you to watch our movie and say, “I may not entirely agree with their worldview, but that was very well done and I kind of get it.”11
There is much to argue over here, of course: the declaration that a sincere film about religious belief will necessarily be seen as “authentic” to its maker and others in the faith community, and “cheesy” to those outside of it deserves a hard look. Furthermore, those non-Christians Sheets imagines among his audience may well feel a film made on the premise stated above is pandering to them less for artistic appreciation and more in hopes of getting them to open their wallets.
But if we put those objections to the side and grant Sheets his point, it is within this context – the desire of the faith-based filmmakers to display their artistic integrity by doing more than preaching to the choir – that we should be situating Risen. To begin with, far more money ($20 million) was spent to make this film, and while its box office doubled its production costs, it was produced in the hopes of being taken and treated more seriously among mainstream viewers and media. With Risen, it is easy to see where the money went. First of all, a well-known and reasonably talented director was hired (Kevin Reynolds, whose previous work includes 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and 1995’s Waterworld), most of the film was shot on location in Malta and Spain, a more expensive PR campaign was rolled out, and, not least of all, bigger-name actors were cast, including Tom Felton, previously featured as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, and Joseph Fiennes, the star of 1998’s Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, as Clavius the Roman military tribune.
The most significant element of Risen’s production, however, was the development by screenwriter Paul Aiello of a more complicated and nuanced screenplay, in which the certainty of faith that we see in the more pious Affirm vehicles has been subjected to questioning. As the film’s detective – with all tenacity and detachment required of the genre – Clavius displays a thoroughgoing skepticism that he is bewildered ultimately to have to abandon, though, in the end, the film remains a work of Christian apologetics. This is not to imply that the story is a dull dramatization of a philosophical debate, by any means: there are numerous tried-and-true components of the police procedural throughout, including examination of witnesses in film noir lighting and a traditional police raid with chase scene. But while the inquiry Clavius pursues ultimately will return to the bedrock faith that Affirm filmgoers expect, Aiello has framed the story as a police drama in which a forensic procedure leads to an unpredetermined and hence “objective” outcome, the sort CSI fans expect.
The tension inherent between certainty and doubt is made clear from the film’s very beginning. We see Clavius walking through a desert landscape and coming to an inn, where he will relate to the innkeeper what has happened to him. As a tribune, Clavius has been involved in putting down a Zealot revolt. When he returns to Jerusalem, he is summoned by Pontius Pilate (played by Peter Firth) to oversee the crucifixion of Jesus (or Yeshua, as he is regularly called in the film, played by Cliff Curtis), though he is still bloody from battle. After his death, Yeshua’s body is placed in the tomb, but, fearful that his followers will steal it, a Roman seal is put on the tomb and two hapless soldiers put on watch. As it happens, the body disappears, and again Pilate turns to Clavius and orders him to find the body before it decomposes. What unfolds next, the longest part of the film and its real heart, has been called “the greatest manhunt in history” by the film’s publicists and “CSI: Ancient Jerusalem” by online wags, as Clavius digs through burial pits and cross-examines a host of suspects, including the negligent guards, Mary Magdalene, and the apostle Bartholomew. A dogged investigator, Clavius has left no stone unturned, but none of it is adding up – a few days later, he has tracked the Apostles to their abode outside the city and bursts in on them, usng his sword to force open their door, only to find – Ecce homo! – Yeshua. At this point in the film, the Roman soldier backs up from the doorway back into the sunlight; Fiennes is shot from below with the sun overwhelming his appearance, a powerful if traditional image of enlightenment. Quite literally blindsided, Clavius hesitantly calls off the case, though Tom Felton’s Lucius, his lieutenant, presses him to continue. If ever viewers were unsure about the integrity of Clavius’s moral character, all uncertainty is erased at this moment, when we see the censorious look on the face of the actor best known to us as the smarmy Draco Malfoy.
When Yeshua disappears, again, Clavius follows the Apostles as they depart, and eventually joins with them as they make their way to Galilee. In one memorable moment, he demands an explanation from the apostle Peter, who expresses his own surprised puzzlement about the situation. “I haven’t any answer. We’re astounded, too,” he says.
CLAVIUS: Why not show himself to all? Or can he be slain once again?
PETER: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I wish I did, but I don’t.
It is a bold move for a film about the origins of Christianity to have Saint Peter – ordinarily a rock of faith in the film tradition, despite his infamous triple denial of Christ the night before his crucifixion – express his uncertainties so forcefully, yet the filmmakers are eager to impress the matter of doubt upon their core viewers. In the Discussion Guide that Affirm provided for youth pastors and church group leaders, it is the first topic listed for conversation:
For so many of us, doubt is a huge burden we carry when it comes to our faith. We doubt if God really hears our prayers. We doubt if some parts of the Bible really happened. We doubt whether God really does love us.12
Some questions that are suggested include the following:
Several times as the disciples and Clavius talk, the disciples freely admit they don’t understand everything and have doubts too. Do you feel like it’s okay to admit when you have doubts, or do you feel pressure sometimes to be 100% certain about God, or the Bible, or prayer?
In the Parent Guide, a similar question is raised:
When it comes to God-stuff in the family, is it easy to admit areas where you are struggling/doubting, or do you sometimes feel like you have to pretend you’re okay? If you sometimes feel like pretending, why?
If an honest encounter with doubt is where Risen begins, however, it is not (as the title would suggest) where the movie ends. After his encounter with Peter, Clavius will get to see Yeshua one more time. Following the Apostles to Galilee, he meets the risen Christ and, ever the detective, continues his questioning. As critics noted, however, the film at this point becomes more traditional and tedious, as the ambiguities begin to resolve and Risen begins to resemble the rest of the offerings in the Affirm catalogue. “Tribune, do you really believe this?” Clavius is asked in the desert inn at the film’s end, after he has left the Apostles behind to pursue his own journey. He looks out in the middle distance in response, saying, “I believe . . . I can never be the same.”
In July 2016, a few months after the movie’s worldwide release, I was in Los Angeles, and had a conversation with screenwriter Paul Aiello and his brother Patrick Aiello, who was the producer of Risen.13 They were very generous with their time, and so much of what I understand about the film I have gotten from its principal creators. One issue I had wanted to know more about had to do with the overall tone of the film, its setting in Judaea as an occupied country. Were Iraq and Afghanistan on your mind for this film? I asked, to which Paul replied,
They were very much on my mind, very much in my thinking. Clavius very much wants to go home; he is tired of being in this place. It’s the same thing with us, the same problems we are seeing. But yes, occupation was 100% on my mind. How ironic is it that we are back in the same region?
I had hoped for more discussion from Aiello on the topic, frankly, but he had little more to add, and when I went on to ask whether the Zealots thus could be seen as jihadists in some way, he demurred. My original thought had been that perhaps there was a sort of political commentary in having the Romans as occupying forces stand in for Americans (and let me note that I have not spoken with director Kevin Reynolds, who might well have such ideas in mind), but Paul indicated that we are not seeing a critique of any particular war in Risen, but rather a depiction of war-weariness as a way of representing disenchantment with the things of this world. As Patrick said of Peter Firth’s Pilate in his film, “Pilate is usually represented as so rigid. We wanted to see him more worn-down. You note that he’s always reaching for a glass of wine.” And it’s true. Throughout the film, Pilate seems constantly to be drinking when he isn’t bathing: he washes not just his hands, it seems, but his entire body, even as he attempts to drown his sorrows.
In fact, there’s a moment early on when Clavius is in the bath with Pilate, who is grateful for the tribune’s service for both crucifixion and the sealing of the tomb. As they try to soak away the day’s troubles, they talk.
PILATE: Your ambition is noticed. Where do you hope it will lead?
CLAVIUS: Position. Power.
PILATE: Which brings?
CLAVIUS: Wealth. A good family. Someday place in the country.
PILATE: Where you’ll find?
CLAVIUS: An end to travail. A day without death. (Pause) Peace.
PILATE: All that for peace? Is there no other way?
Pilate, who has had a goblet in hand the entire time, then exits the bath for bed, saying, “Tomorrow promises further punishment,” although it’s uncertain whether he means that which he will inflict or that which he will suffer: though he is the chief military and political officer in this part of the world, the imperial job seems to demand more of the prefect than it gives. Say what you will about these scenes, they are certainly more subtle than “a stack of Bibles falling on your head,” and some of the dialogue here is the sort of thing you might very well hear from veterans recently returned from their own engagements in the Middle East.
Another question I had for Paul was the name of Fiennes’s character, Clavius, a Latinate enough-sounding name but not really a classical one. “Do you know who Christopher Clavius was?” he asked in response. For those who may not be familiar with the history of science, Clavius (1537-1612) was a significant figure, a German-born Jesuit who was a leading mathematician and astronomer.14 A highly respected figure in his day, Clavius was an admirer of Galileo, with whom he corresponded, though on religious grounds he could not bring himself to accept the Copernican system for which Galileo would eventually be condemned. Nonetheless, toward the end of his own life, intellectual honesty compelled Clavius to ponder what impact Galileo’s insights would have upon the church’s geocentric understanding of the universe. As one scholar remarks, “The failure of the Ptolemaic cosmology to measure up to the scientific demands of early seventeenth-century astronomy must have bewildered Clavius.”15 Having peered through Galileo’s telescope, Clavius became uncertain about what was really true in the system of which he was a principal part, and, like the Clavius of Risen, the evidence of his own eyes required a massive paradigm shift. Artfully and indeed learnedly, Aiello’s screenplay employs the name of a principal figure in the scientific revolution as a way of pointing to the transformative experience of the epiphany for his Roman tribune.
Though named for a sixteenth-century man of learning, Clavius also has a more immediate model in television. As a dramatic matter, Patrick Aiello told me, the jokes about CSI: Ancient Jerusalem all have a sound basis because Risen is very much patterned after a TV detective show. “The film really follows the template of Chinatown,” he said. “And yeah, the Netflix mandate is at work here. Procedural dramas have a great shelf life. This is a template that is in the Zeitgeist, a very easy formula to work with and for viewers to handle.” Twenty-first-century Americans love such shows – CSI has been on since before the George W. Bush presidency – and so Risen gives them the story of Jesus as a dramatized police case.16 Indeed, we see a sundial and an anachronistic hourglass on Clavius’s desk, as we might see a clock on a detective’s, iconographic emblems of the detective’s race against time. In a deleted scene, Clavius handles the physical evidence of the crown of thorns and the Shroud of Turin-like blanket that covered Yeshua’s corpse. What we are to understand is that Clavius is a dispassionate investigator working on a case, following to their logical conclusions the results of his inquiries. But there comes a moment when the logical conclusion is that a man whom he has seen die and whom he himself has buried is decidedly not dead. This cannot be true, he thinks, and yet it must be. In an ordinary mystery, we might expect the detective to walk away from the case in frustration at such a turn of events, as happens at the end of Chinatown. In Risen, however, Clavius walks away from his world and into the surrounding desert.
There is a logical contradiction – what philosophers call a reductio ad absurdum – in the proceedings of Risen that would fully justify the film or TV detective’s exasperation. Clavius is certain that Yeshua is dead – he has attended personally to it on the cross, and overseen the burial – and yet he has seen Yeshua alive with his own eyes. Which is it – alive or not? For it cannot be both. Associated with Christopher Clavius, however, is a logical theorem that instead seeks to reconcile such contradictions by invoking the miraculous. Called the Consequentia Mirablis, “the wonderful consequence” or the Lex Clavia, “Clavius’s Law,” this theorem establishes that a proposition can be considered true if its negation is not logically consistent.17 As Paul Aiello wrote to me in a follow-up e-mail on this point,
It’s a significant name for the film, because Clavius is a detective figure, a person using scientific method to solve a problem – here he is proving a truth by a negation, a missing body to prove the resurrection. . . . Clavius the character and his arc were created and written before I found the name. Yes, I used the name because he mirrored Christopher Clavius’s law and in fact proves it by what the tribune goes through on his mission. And if the viewer were to take these biblical events as evidence, they might struggle with them but would reach a similar conclusion. However, the most significant thing for me about Clavius is not his name but his transformation from a man trapped in endless days of death to an unlikely discoverer of a new life and freedom through Christ. And he’s a forerunner of many Romans to come, which leads to the Empire’s change.
To be sure, the philosophical issues that Clavius’s Law treats seem to be reflected in the case Clavius has set out to solve. While skeptical viewers may not necessarily come to the same conclusion that the film’s skeptical protagonist has, nonetheless they recognize that in what is ordinarily an unchallenging sort of movie, Risen is hunting bigger intellectual game – even critics who panned the film offered grudging admiration for the ambitious script. “For a film that could have easily become bogged down in Sunday School reverence, or culture-war opportunism, Risen presents an intriguing, oblique approach to a Bible movie,” wrote one critic,18 while another remarked, “Risen is still more nuanced than the lion’s share of recent faith-based dramas.”19
Before his march to the desert inn, the scene with which Risen begins, Clavius has a final conversation in Galilee with Yeshua, who puts his hand on the tribune’s shoulder and begins to question the questioner: “What is it you seek, Clavius? Certainty? Peace? A day without death?” Hearing his own desires, expressed in Pilate’s bath earlier in the movie, repeated back to him in such a different context, Clavius gives Yeshua a look somewhere between bafflement and understanding, before he finally looks down to break into a broad smile. At this critical moment in the narrative arc, with this final touch on Clavius’s body and the last cheerful look on his face, the Aiellos’ film attempts to be all things to all people. For the traditional Affirm filmgoer, the smile signals the beginning of the end of Clavius’s travails, perhaps recalling St. Augustine’s classic expression about relief from spiritual anxiety, “Our heart is restless until it finds rest in you, Lord.”20 A more agnostic viewer might be less sanguine. An Apostle not depicted in the film, Doubting Thomas, had once declared, “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 it” (John 20:25). When Jesus appeared to him a week later, Thomas did not avail himself of the opportunity to examine the wound but simply declared, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:27-28). Clavius has required more proof, which Yeshua has happily provided by revealing Clavius’s own desires to him and then adding a pat on the shoulder – the sort of encouragement even a skeptic appreciates as well as the physical evidence a detective, ancient or modern, requires to conclude a case.
As a film, Risen is the product of a sub-industry whose primary source of success is in providing pious pablum for a complacent and undiscriminating Christian market (although, to be fair, this market is not made up solely of complacent and undiscriminating viewers, nor are complacency and a lack of discrimination characteristics only of Christian moviegoers), yet throughout the film there is an explicit attempt to challenge the certitudes of its core audience. At times, Risen does indeed resemble an open-ended investigation. This is unsurprising, give how closely the conversion narrative here has been patterned after the police procedural in its attempt to bring about the resolution of ambiguities. At other times, however, the film is more clearly a work of advocacy, with the viewer never in any genuine doubt about the absolute factuality of Christ’s resurrection – the film’s title, after all, is not so much a spoiler as it is a sign of reassurance to the usual Affirm consumer that the issue of Christ’s resurrection will not be subject to any lasting critique. In the end, the resolution of Clavius’s doubt probably does little to resolve anybody else’s – to see an on-screen skeptic converted, after all, is not to be a skeptic in the audience converted – and most viewers likely finish the film in much the same state of mind as they began it. In the end, the missed opportunities in the film are legion. It would have been remarkable to see a more sustained engagement with the logical contradictions of the Lex Clavia in the film’s dialogue – how substantive it might have been had Fiennes’s Clavius actually tried to reason the problem though with Felton’s Lucius (who is otherwise wasted in this film) rather than simply dismissing him. And the reliance on a smiling Yeshua to solve the mystery is as lazy an invocation of the classical deus ex machina concept as you might find in a film. Few of us get a shoulder rub from the Messiah to assuage our troubled spirits, after all. And it is disappointing, too, not to have seen more done with the wartime setting beyond the idea of battle fatigue as a metaphor for soul-weariness. Still, by acknowledging that contemporary Americans trust forensic investigators more than religious institutions, the producers of Risen have attempted to offer a more complicated if ultimately still orthodox version of the traditional movie about the Passion. Undoubtedly, filmmakers focused on the evangelical market will continue to produce cheap and easy fare for their basic audience, though some might take their cue from the reception to Risen and rise to the challenge of more complicated works about faith and doubt.
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Unless otherwise stated, all images are screenshots from the film, courtesy of Columbia Pictures/Sony Affirm.
- In Time magazine’s famous “Is God Dead?” cover story (April 8, 1966), a Gallup poll found that 97% of Americans believed in God. In a retrospective fifty years later, however, the magazine reported “By the time Gallup asked the same question in 2014, that number had fallen to 86%, with 12% of Americans claiming no belief and 2% with no opinion.” (David Johnson, “See How Americans’ Belief in God Has Changed over 70 Years,” Time, April 7, 2016. http://time.com/4283975/god-belief-religion-americans/) According to the results of another fairly recent survey, “In 2013, we saw continued declines in religiosity. The importance of religion in people’s lives? Down. Church attendance? Down. People who say they are ‘no religion’? Up. The result: 2013 had the lowest level of religiosity of any year we can measure.” (Tobin Grant, “The Great Decline: 61 Years of Religiosity in One Graph, 2013 Hits a New Low,” Religion News Service, August 5, 2014. http://religionnews.com/2014/08/05/the-great-decline-61-years-of-religion-religiosity-in-one-graph-2013-hits-a-new-low/). [↩]
- “American viewers may have bid farewell to CSI a year ago but the long-running CBS drama procedural continues to be very popular around the world. The mothership series was named again as most watched drama series in the world at the Monte Carlo TV Festival. This is a sixth win for the series, more than any other show by a mile. The only other multiple winners in the category are CBS spinoff CSI: Miami (twice) and fellow CBS crime procedural NCIS, which won for the last two years.” (Nellie Andreeva, “‘CSI’ Lives On, Wins Most Watched Drama Series Award at Monte Carlo TV Festival,” Deadline Hollywood, June 16, 2016. http://deadline.com/2016/06/csi-big-bang-theory-better-call-saul-monte-carlo-tv-festival-awards-1201774233/). [↩]
- Risen press-kit, http://www.risenmovieresources.com/press.html. [↩]
- Max Houck, quoted in Simon A. Cole and Rachel Dioso-Villa, “CSI and its Effects: Media, Juries, and the Burden of Proof,” New England Law Review 41.3 (2007) 439 with n. 17. [↩]
- http://www.affirmfilms.com/mission.html. [↩]
- This, and all subsequent financial figures cited in this article are derived from the online source Box Office Mojo, http://www.boxofficemojo.com/. [↩]
- Alan Noble, “The Evangelical Persecution Complex,” The Atlantic, August 4, 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/the-evangelical-persecution-complex/375506/. [↩]
- The Telegraph, April 25, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/04/25/has-hollywood-finally-found-god/. [↩]
- Scott Foundas, “Film Review: ‘God’s Not Dead,’” Variety, March 22, 2014. http://variety.com/2014/film/reviews/film-review-gods-not-dead-1201142881/. [↩]
- Quoted by Alissa Wilkinson, “Can Indie Filmmakers Save Religious Cinema?” The Atlantic, March 18, 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/03/not-your-typical-god-movie/385315/. [↩]
- Jordan Zakarian, “Film Review: ‘God’s Not Dead’; Hollywood’s Come-to-Jesus Moment: Inside the Latest Rise of Faith-Driven Movies,” The Wrap, May 14, 2014. http://www.thewrap.com/hollywoods-come-jesus-moment-inside-rise-religious-films/. [↩]
- Risen: Discussion Guide (2016), provided by Download Youth Ministry. http://www.risenmovieresources.com/downloads/RISEN_discussion_guide_FINAL020216.pdf. [↩]
- My interview by conference call with Paul and Patrick Aiello took place on July 28, 2016, and I verified all quotations with Paul by e-mail on August 10, 2016. [↩]
- An excellent resource about Clavius can be found on the Galileo Project website maintained by Rice University, http://galileo.rice.edu/sci/clavius.html. [↩]
- James Lattis, Between Copernicus and Galileo: Christoph Clavius and the Collapse of Ptolemaic Cosmology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994) 219 [↩]
- The various reasons why audiences in the US and UK love “watching the detectives” so much are thoughtfully explored by Sue Turnbull, The TV Crime Drama (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014) 44-67 (discussing Britain) and 68-96 (discussing America). [↩]
- See Zach Weber, “Paraconsistent Logic,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/para-log/. [↩]
- Bilge Ebiri, “Risen Takes a Novel but Grim Approach to the Familiar Crucifixion Tale,” New York Magazine, February 20, 2016. http://www.vulture.com/2016/02/risen-takes-a-grim-approach-to-the-crucifixion.html?mid=full-rss-vulture. [↩]
- Michael Nordine, “A Comparatively Nuanced Faith-Based Drama, Risen Still Preaches to the Choir,” Village Voice, February 19, 2016. https://www.villagevoice.com/2016/02/19/a-comparatively-nuanced-faith-based-drama-risen-still-preaches-to-the-choir/. [↩]
- Confessions 1.1, my translation. On smiles in Christian iconography, see the very fine discussion by Peter S. Hawkins, “All Smiles: Poetry and Theology in Dante,” PMLA 121.2 (2006) 371-387. [↩]