It took a while for my review copy to arrive, but I finally had a chance to check out the bonus features on the Risen Blu-Ray. Here are a few quick thoughts on them.
First, the four bonus features that appear on both the DVD and the Blu-Ray:
The Mystery of the Resurrection: Making Risen. An eleven-minute featurette on the making of the film, with some great concept-art paintings and some soundbites (a few of which we’ve seen before) from the director, the producers, co-writer Paul Aiello and the three lead actors (Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton and Cliff Curtis).
My favorite detail: one of the behind-the-scenes shots from the Crucifixion sequence reveals the bicycle seat that Curtis was sitting on while he was on the cross.
Creating A.D. Jerusalem. A nine-minute look at how the filmmakers recreated the ancient world, from the city of Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee. One of the more interesting bits is how the filmmakers acknowledge that Golgotha — the place outside Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified — has traditionally been depicted as a hilltop, whereas in Risen it is more of a “ditch” that functions as a “factory of death”.
This video looks at how existing structures in Malta and Spain — many of which are centuries old — were augmented and repurposed for the film. That’s strikingly different from the similar featurettes for A.D. The Bible Continues, which focused on a massive set that was built from scratch in the middle of the Moroccan desert, and The Gospel of John, which focused on how the city was created in a computer.
Script to Screen. This four-minute featurette was actually released online before the film came out. You can watch it, and read some thoughts I had about it, here.
Feature Commentary. Producer Patrick Aiello and his co-writer brother Paul talk about the film and its development, noting along the way that a number of ideas (like the decision to call Jesus “Yeshua”) came from director Kevin Reynolds.
There isn’t a whole lot here that you couldn’t glean from the other featurettes, but one comment I found kind of intriguing concerns an “informer” who was meant to be a kind of Peter Lorre figure. (Now that they mention it, I can see the resemblance.) As it happens, the actor who plays the informant had never even heard of Lorre!
Shameless plug: I interviewed the Aiello brothers a couple weeks ago.
And next, the two bonus features that are unique to the Blu-Ray (and iTunes?):
Deleted Scenes. There are five deleted scenes, all very brief, the most interesting of which may be the one in which Clavius and Lucius discover Judas Iscariot’s body hanging from a tree. (I discuss this and one other deleted scene in a note that I appended to my scene guide for the film.) Alas, there are no scenes with Clavius’s mistress, nor any that depict or refer to Mary Magdalene’s original fate.
The Battle of the Zealots Deconstructed. A five-minute featurette on the battle scene that starts the film, with storyboards and a look at the Roman fighting style.
And that’s it! Here’s hoping some of the other deleted footage surfaces some day.