Churches rally to ‘Risen’

LIHUE — The character of Jesus portrayed in the move “Risen” by actor Cliff Curtis “isn’t fragile or whispy,” said Rick Bundschuh, pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship.

“Whoever did the casting on that was brilliant,” Bundschuh said. “They picked this guy with a Middle Eastern feel to him, with a warm gentleness, but still strong. I’d want to hang out with this guy.”

The movie debuted in theaters nationwide Friday, including Kauai, but Bundschuh has already seen it twice. That’s because the pastor, who has a background in youth ministries and writing, partnered with Sony to write Bible study materials based off the movie.

“They’re aimed at high school kids and actually have little clips of the movie that you can download,” Bundschuh said. “It’s aimed at Christian communities and there’s four or five weeks’ worth of studies.”

The film follows a Roman soldier, played by actor Joseph Fiennes, who is fresh from battle and homeward bound. That soldier gets roped into presiding over one more execution before he can go home, though.

“He finds himself right in the middle of the crucifixion of Christ,” Bundschuh said.

But the crucifixion isn’t the main event of the film.

The soldier is once again drudged up before Pontius Pilot, who sends him on a mission to find Jesus’ body when it disappeared from the grave.

“This is just a regular Roman soldier. He puts money to Saturn, the god of war and prays to the Roman gods,” Bundschuh said. “And so here begins the mystery for him. He wanders into something he can’t sort out.”

Churches across the country are rallying behind the film and encouraging people to see it. On Kauai, locals like Carol and Art Hernandez of Koloa and Ron Clerc and Cookie Perreira of Lihue took in the movie at its first showing on Friday at Kukui Grove Cinema.

Some believers say it’s a chance to invite friends to the movie and share their faith without seeming to be pushy.

Bundschuh said the journey of the soldier rings true with many Christians today.

“It’s a journey from cluelessness to what the heck is going on here,” Bundschuh said. “He got sideswiped by something he had no idea about and that’s a pretty good explanation for a lot of us that have become Christians.”

Risen is starkly different from other films in its genre, Bundschuh said, like “Passion of the Christ,” which was released in 2004.

That movie, he said, was more of a visual chronicle of the Gospels’ account of the resurrection, centered around characters in the Bible.

Risen is, first and foremost, a fictional story.

“You won’t be able to go home and Google the main character and read about the guy,” Bundschuh said. “The movie is centered around what Christians believe is historical fact, though and supposes what would happen if there were a character like that involved in the story.”

The film will be showing at the Kukui Grove Cinema at various times throughout the weekend starting at 12:30.

There will also be showings twice an evening Monday through Thursday of next week at 5 and 7:30 p.m.

For access to the free bible study resource materials developed by Bundschuh, visit


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