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December 15, 2007

Review: The Nativity Story

TV and Movies

I know this came out last year, but I got it from Netflix and finally managed to watch it last night. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was! The scenery and costumes are impressive, and the very international cast is quite good. (And attractive. Oh, Alexander Siddig as the Angel Gabriel...) What I liked best was how straightforward the storytelling was. It managed to walk the fine line between being overly preachy/syrupy and being "a new radical retelling!!" as so many religious-themed movies end up. It had the feel of a faithful adaptation of a classic piece of literature (which in one sense it is), while remaining respectful but not saccharine.

I had a few quibbles with it - there were a few wink-wink moments, such as when Joseph bemoans the commercialism of the temple, and the ending seemed rushed - the Magi arrived Christmas night, and Herod's soldiers seemingly arrived to kill the innocents only moments later. The movie was only about an hour and a half, and I thought it would have been better were it a little longer. The climax of the movie was really the birth, though, so I see why they didn't want to belabor the following days. Oh, and I couldn't help but think that Joseph would have gotten a place to stay - or at least a woman or two to help - if he had told any of the people in Bethlehem that his wife was actually in labor. Ah well.

The acting was particularly impressive. The magi were hilarious and provided the main comic relief. Herod and his son were delightfully evil. The villagers in general, and Mary's family in particular, made clear just how hard life was for this culture, without really hitting us over the head with it. And Mary and Joseph were amazing. Their emotions and interactions were complex, and really made it clear how horribly difficult the whole process was for both of them, and what strength they both had to go through with it.

I'll definitely be buying this one to watch each year! It's on HBO several times this coming week, including today at one and Christmas Eve at eight, or you can get it through Netflix (or, I'm sure, a rental store).

Posted by Kat at December 15, 2007 10:21 AM

Thanks for the review. I have this on the DVR but haven't watched it yet. Congrats to your brother too! Very exciting time.

Posted by: Sonya at December 15, 2007 01:35 PM
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