By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON – The new biblical epic “Resurrection” is the kind of movie where “families can get together” to watch it, said one of its producers, Roma Downey, still best known for her on-camera role in the television series “Touched by an Angel.”
Families indeed have that chance, as “Resurrection” begins streaming March 27 on the Discovery+ subscription service.
Downey said she can remember as a child gathering around the “telly” to watch movies on Easter like “The Ten Commandments” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
“Resurrection,” at one hour and 35 minutes, is fairly compact for a biblical epic. In fact, you could watch it three times in the time ABC allotted for its Holy Saturday screening of “The Ten Commandments” April 3.
“We’ve been able to condense the story and I don’t think we’ve lost any of the emotional punch it delivers. It comes together so beautifully,” Downey told Catholic News Service during a March 16 phone interview from California.
Reprising his portrayal of Jesus is Juan Pablo Di Pace. He had played Christ in “A.D.: The Bible Continues,” which also was produced by Downey and her husband, reality-show producer Mark Burnett. Other actors of note in the cast include Greta Scacchi as Jesus’ mother and Joanne Whalley as Claudia, the wife of Pilate. Whalley also played Priscilla in the 2018 biblical film “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” starring Jim Caviezel and Olivier Martinez.
While Scripture is seen as timeless, some of the dialogue in “Resurrection” may resonate with many viewers after a year of upheaval in medical, political and societal circles.
“We’re all needing some sort of resurrection in our own lives right now. We’ve all been in our tombs, we’ve all been isolated in our own ways by this pandemic,” Downey said.
“I think the film can be seen through piercing hearts and the eyes that have lived through this year. There’s a message of hope that this film can offer. And we need hope more than ever.”
Viewers also will be able to note a transition from biblical times to the present day, as a flood of images including those of Pope Francis, a kneeling woman in a church clutching a rosary and an aerial view of a large statue of Jesus fill the screen.
“We just started playing around with different ideas of how to end the film – bring the story up close and personal for people,” Downey said. The montage, she added, serves as “an amazing reminder that just from a handful of disciples we are now over 2 billion Christians in the world.”