The Nativity Story – A Brief Review

Luke 2:12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in
swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
The Nativity Story

Amid the muck and mire of the American cinema’s preoccupation with death,
destruction, addiction & boundless, gratuitous sex, comes a Christmas gift this
year – The Nativity Story. Written by Mike Rich (Radio, The Rookie, Finding
Forrester) and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, The Nativity Story does its best
to present the unvarnished Biblical narrative, with careful artistic license. New
Line Cinema really needs to be commended for letting the story speak, and not
trying to sensationalize it above its deceptively stark Biblical content. Where the
lines from the Bible are placed directly in the mouths of the characters – they
stay true. Where the writer attempts to color in where the Scripture grants us
sparse data, it is done without violence to the facts. What is courageous, is
letting, what in commercial terms (unless you already believe Jesus Christ is the
Son of God) is a pretty unremarkable account, speak for itself. In fact, the
Nativity is not compelling unless this is the record of the birth of the Son of God.
And that makes it very satisfying to watch. Mary isn’t angelic. Joseph really does
struggle. Mary’s mother and father don’t believe her. Elizabeth and Zacharias
are her harbor. Herod is the brutal megalomaniac who would slaughter babies to
protect his corrupt fiefdom. The people of Nazareth respond as such people
would. No one is up for sainthood here. Real people in an impossible place. And
the reality, that the Nativity is about the incarnation, takes center stage in that
indefinable place where eternity inserts itself into space and time. True, the Wise
men did not arrive at the manger as the film portrays (nor do we know their
number or their names). Mary’s magnificat is sung as they flee Bethlehem for
Egypt instead of when she greets Elizabeth. But other than such shifts for film
use, this is a wonderfully sweet representation that everyone ought to use to
refresh our hearts over what such a miracle looks like in real life. It is not epic
movie making. It IS, the story of the birth of our Savior. It is worth your time
this Christmas for you and your entire family. A few scenes are a tad intense,
but less than most TV. Go see it. And marvel again. Unto us a Savior was born!


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