The Nativity Story

500 Movie Challenge: The Nativity Story

The Nativity StoryBible movies have come back into fashion. There’s Exodus, Noah and probably a few more racist frickin’ things due to come out in the next few years.

They are garbage. They are all garbage movies who have cast too many white people and don’t have the cajones to tell the Bible how it is. Let me introduce the only movie besides The Passion of the Christ that covers a Bible story with some measure of dignity: The Nativity Story.

The gist: You know the story. A young Nazerene woman named Mary (played by Keisha Castle-Hughes of Whale Rider epic-ness) is visited by an angel and is told she’s going to give birth to God’s son. She’s already due to be married to sweetheart Joseph, so this is horrible news if it’s true. So she visits her cousin Elizabeth, whom the angel mentions as also due to give birth in spite of her infertility. Sure enough, she’s knocked up. So Mary prepares herself to be a teenage mother in an era where being so means you might get stoned to death.

Simultaneously, King Herod is preparing for a possible revolt from the Jews he rules as a proxy for Caesar. Apparently taxing them to pieces can make people a little miffed about you as a leader. And simultaneously as that is happening, three bros from Persia (or perhaps Istanbul?), are reading their star charts and realizing that the miraculous “super star” they’ve been waiting for will be formed sometime in the next year. The Messiah that they’ve been waiting for is coming, and they must prepare for the journey to find Him.

What I “learned”: You really don’t need to jazz up stories of the Bible to make them better movie material. All you need is proper context and enough detail. The biblical story of Noah has very little action-packed scenes. It’s more a story of faith in spite of how ridiculous you look to everyone else. Film that stuff in the low-key style of Take Shelter, you’d probably have a great film. It would also feel like a more honest attempt to tell a Bible story, not shoehorn that story into a Big Budget Action Flick template. The Bible is crazy enough, and has enough wars and supernatural happenings to keep people entertaining for days. Why alter what’s already good? People clearly don’t want it.

See this movie if you like: Historical movies (or even Bible movies specifically) that try to keep things real as much as possible. Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem to be counted in the census is one of the most satisfying sections of the movie because that journey sucks. They’re traveling through the desert in the Middle East. On a donkey. There’s no wind protection in that arrangement, son. There’s also snakes and jackals. People prone to say “that didn’t really happen!” will likely be very satisfied with this movie’s take on a very old story.

Avoid this movie if: You’re looking for a more Christmas-y movie about the birth of Jesus. This struck me as great because I personally liked the idea of Jesus’s birth as not being particularly world-shaking at the moment it happened. It was important to people who believed that Jesus was something more than an infant, just like today. Except in that time that group consisted of less than ten people. So if you’re a Christian and looking for more of a rah-rah-Jesus movie, this isn’t for you. Though if Passion of the Christ touched you, maybe this will too.

New Films Watched: 41

Films Re-Watched: 2

Total Number of Films: 43

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