Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Nativity Story in the Movies
It's risky to write about something you haven't seen. Not that I don't want to see the latest movie The Nativity Story. I simply haven't had the chance yet. So, for anyone who reads this and has seen the movie, your insights and comments are most welcome.
Rev. Jack Cascione has written a nice review entitled "Hollywood Preaches the Gospel in 'Nativity.'" Two items stand out in his comments - One, he notes "the clarity of the Gospel in this movie..." Specifically he points to the Wise Men who at one point say, point-blank: "This is God in the flesh." I am very pleased to hear that the Gospel does not get short shrift in a day when so many in Hollywood are probably paranoid about being to specific about the claims of the scriptures - paranoid of giving offense.
Secondly, Pastor Cascione notes the realism of the film. He writes: "I loved the practicality and matter of fact approach of the story line. We are spared the syrupy, pietistic, melodramatic, hammed-up, folded hands, eyes-to-heaven characteristics." This is what I appreciated about Mel Gibson's "Passion." Sometimes in our efforts to sanctify the story for film, I fear we paper over the simple and profound beauty of the incarnation and what it means when God took on human flesh and lived among us.
The Lutheran Witness magazine also has a review of the film, and echoes Cascione's observations.: "The Nativity Story is not a film that will leave you floating on cloud nine or with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. The director deliberately opted for realism rather than sentimentality." However, they are very positive about the effect of this approach: "You will find images from the film resurfacing in your mind days after you've seen it. And you will come away with your faith strengthened by a cinematic approach to the Christmas story that portrays a God who worked His will through people not much different from you and me." The articles author, Ardon Albrecht, also notes that the film would have pleased Luther himself. He said that Luther would have "liked the way the move shows Mary accepting Gabriel's announcement without the slightest doubt. To Luther, that was the true miracle of the Christmas story. He said: 'The Virgin birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but the most amazing of all is that this maiden should believe the announcement that she, rather than some other virgin, had been chosen to be the mother of God."
A good general overview of the film with the particulars of actors and other cinematic details can be found in a brief article at Wikipedia.
I was surprised the other day when I heard Rush Limbaugh gushing over the film. For a man that seems to avoid even the hint of sentimentality, he was particularly moved by this movie.
Given all that I have heard and seen to date, I will admit that I'm eager to see this for myself. And if it's truly that good, to purchase the DVD and add it to my collection of 'must see' movies for the holidays.