Risen dropped a major character “due to time constraints”?

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Risen doesn’t come to theatres for another month and a half, but the novelization by Angela Hunt has been out for a couple weeks now — and it reveals that a major character was cut from the movie sometime after it was shot.

The novel — which you can preview at Amazon and Google Play Books — is apparently written from the perspectives of Clavius (the Roman officer who tries to debunk the Resurrection) and his Jewish mistress Rachel. One chapter is titled ‘Clavius’, the next is titled ‘Rachel’, the next is titled ‘Clavius’, and so on, back and forth.

Rachel herself, however, is not in the actual film. Hunt says in an “author’s note” that all of Rachel’s scenes were cut from the film “due to time constraints”:

The character of Rachel, who adds so much to the story, is a creation of Paul Aiello, the screenwriter, but her role had to be cut from the movie due to time constraints. I am happy that she lives within these pages and adds an additional point of view.

The Rachel scenes do seem to have been filmed, at least. Way back in the summer of 2014, there were reports that Spanish actress Leonor Watling had been cast in the film as Rachel, and the IMDb says Malcolm Ellul was also cast as one of Rachel’s lovers.

That’s right, it appears that Rachel had at least two lovers in the original storyline.

So I can’t help wondering if there were other reasons for dropping those scenes, too. It’s possible that, once the faith-based distributors got involved, they felt that any hint of sexual impropriety — even among fictitious characters who are not (or not yet) Christian — would make the movie a harder sell to its core audience.

Maybe the deleted scenes will show up on DVD at some point. Maybe not. We’ll see.

In the meantime, based on the several pages of bibliography at the end of the novel, it looks like Hunt has done quite a bit of her own historical research and added a few plot twists of her own. So the book might be worth a look in its own right.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).