Rosemary Bogdan reviews Roma Downey’s wonderful new film, Resurrection, which is available for streaming on Discovery+.
As we celebrate the Resurrection, how delightful it is to watch a brand new movie on the subject. Roma Downey’s new film Resurrection is a wonderfully moving and beautiful depiction of how the details of the Resurrection may have unfolded. The characters come alive as we hear conversations that are scriptural and others that are realistic and completely consistent with what we know about the heroes (and villains) of the Easter story. Your family will love it.
Since we will be celebrating Easter until Pentecost, May 23rd this year, it is entirely appropriate and quite helpful to families to have a lovely film to see and to spark discussions as we continue to talk about what Jesus has done for us.
See the trailer and hear Roma Downey’s encouraging words on the importance of mothers.
Danielle Bean had this to say about Resurrection:
Resurrection is a great gift to families seeking to focus on Christ and his redeeming love this Easter season. Beautiful visuals and authentic performance pull us straight into the story of Jesus as we witness scenes of his life, death and resurrection. For a weary and jaded world, this film is a shining light of hope and inspiration.
The film opens with the arrest of Jesus and the back-and-forth political maneuvering of Pontius Pilate, the governor, and Caiaphas, the high priest. The music is haunting as Pilate’s wife tells her husband that Jesus is a good and humble man. She says, presciently, “You will live to regret your hand in his death” and that “killing him won’t be the end of him.”
Pilate, unmoved, says, “It usually is, my darling.”
The crucifixion is, quite appropriately, gruesome and bloody. We see the nails being forged and then pounded close-up into Jesus’ hands and feet. The violence is rather brief and nowhere near the level of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, but parents of very young children might want to watch the first 15 minutes before including the youngest members of the family.
The sky is darkened at Jesus’ death. We see Pilate’s look of alarm as Jesus has died and the earth shakes violently. Is he having second thoughts? The blue of Mary’s veil is in striking contrast to the blood on her hands from having clutched the foot of the cross. It is a powerful image. Joseph of Arimathea gently approaches Mary and asks if he might, with her permission, place the body of Jesus in his own tomb. We see Joseph’s kindness as he tenderly takes Mary’s arm as they walk there.
The burial is very somber as we see John, Mary Magdalene and Mary our mother nearly overcome with shock and grief. Five strong men roll the stone across the entrance. We then see Mary washing the blood from her hands.
Finally Peter arrives where Mary and Mary Magdalene are staying. The apostles have scattered. Mary Magdalene insists that Peter should leave immediately and that his life is in grave danger. Peter tearfully and firmly refuses. “Not without them!”
We see Caiaphas telling Peter of Jesus’ predicted rising from the dead. The governor is clearly annoyed and quips, “Roman crucifixion really doesn’t allow for that, Caiaphas,” but he agrees to put guards at the tomb.
As the apostles begin to be reunited there is a lot of tension among them. They know they are in great peril and are not in agreement about what to do. Simon insists that their duty is to their families now. Mary Magdalene asks Mary, “Do you think he’s coming back?” Mary replies, “I know he is.” As the apostles discuss leaving, Mary challenges them, even raising her voice, “Have you forgotten? Can you not wait?”
Peter, who is uncertain, says “Our faith in him has to be worth three days.”
Simon replies, “And if he fails to rise on the third?”
Peter replies, “Then we leave like men, not cowards.” And so they wait.
The Resurrection itself is depicted with all the wonderfully appropriate drama and visuals it deserves. The earth is quaking. A bolt of fire descends from the sky as a single angel, warrior-like in armor and with a sword, rolls back the stone. The interior of the tomb is bathed in light.
Mary Magdalene runs to the tomb in the morning and sees the stone rolled away and the burial cloth folded. Dumbfounded, she returns to John and Peter, saying, “The tomb is empty.” They return with her and enter the tomb. As they come out she asks, “What did you find?”
John replies, “Nothing, we found nothing. And everything.” His face is glowing with joy.
Mary Magdalene is in the tomb when Jesus appears and asks why she is crying. Smiling, He gently and softly speaks her name. “Mary.” When she returns with excitement to tell the apostles, Mary embraces her, all smiles. John quotes Isaiah as all who had been at the foot of the cross now believe. The rest of the apostles aren’t sure.
Peter, deeply grieved that he had not been there says, “I so want to tell him I’m sorry.” Suddenly, Jesus’ hand is on his shoulder as he kindly smiles and says, “Peace be with you.” Jesus then greets each of the rest of the disciples, smiling and embracing some of them, just as you would expect friends to greet each other after a separation. He then, with a joyful smile, asks for something to eat. They hand him a piece of pita which he tears and eats. Later Thomas returns and declares his unbelief. Mary Magdalene’s only response: “Go to the tomb.”
Simon asks, “How can each of us be mistaken in exactly the same way at exactly the same time?” When Jesus appears again, Thomas falls to his knees.
Pilate has the guards who were at the tomb brutally killed in front of Caiaphas. Pilate declares, “Finally the prophecy of the resurrection lies as dead as these men.”
Wrong again. When Joseph of Arimathea tells Caiaphas that he has “laid a poor soul to rest” in his own tomb and that it is the Nazarene, Caiaphas loses his mind with rage. “You will see, Joseph, you have my word, in or out of your tomb, the Nazarene’s doctrine will decompose with his corpse.” We find ourselves asking how they could have been so sure.
There is then the beautiful scene of the apostles fishing. The music is peaceful and calm. Having caught nothing all night someone on the shore hollers to cast on the right side. Peter insists it won’t make any difference until John declares, “It’s him!” Jesus looks at them with that kind and loving smile. Peter dives into the water. As he reaches the shore, he and Jesus embrace.
Later Jesus questions why they doubt themselves and explains to them about the Holy Spirit. He instructs them to go back to Jerusalem and wait because only then would they “be ready to spread the word.” He continues, “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to all nations.” As Jesus ascends to the Father there is a great wind and the sky is full of rapidly moving clouds. The warrior angel is standing on a bluff as Jesus disappears from their midst. The apostles appear full of joy as we next see them intently praying in Jerusalem. Wind envelops the building and a crowd gathers. Fire floods the room, dancing and darting around them. Then it all stops.
The apostles are completely changed men, full of joy and with no signs of the old fear. They are ecstatic. Peter heals a cripple in Jesus’ name and they continue to proclaim Jesus’ Resurrection. Even when John and Peter are beaten and arrested they smile at each others’ bloodied faces in prison. As Caiaphas releases them after a failed attempt to prove the miracle fraudulent, he orders them to not teach in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, declares resolutely and in a loud voice to Caiaphas, “You have judged us. Now you must judge if in God’s eyes it’s right that we obey you rather than him!”
The apostles are on fire with the desire to evangelize. Simon says to Peter, “Were you prepared to die?” Peter replies, his face full of delight, “Yes, and if this is the result I am prepared to do it again.” The Church is born.
The film closes with the words: “Today there are over 2 billion people who have never seen Jesus and yet they believe.” We then see beautiful images of the Church and believers around the world, in all nations and cultures, practicing the faith.
I highly recommend this movie to everyone and especially to families as we continue to celebrate Easter. It brings alive the Resurrection and the historical building of the church. It will leave you amazed at how God worked though simple men and against great odds to bring forth His truth to the entire world. Jesus is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Copyright 2021 Rosemary Bogdan
Images courtesy of Discovery+. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
About the Author
Rosemary Bogdan is a wife, mother of six adult children, and a grandmother. She homeschooled her children when they were young and currently substitute teaches at her favorite Catholic school. When not spending time with her family, Rosemary writes at A Catholic Mother's Thoughts and Catholic365.com.