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Holy Bore: The New Movie ‘Nativity Story’ Has No New Blessings to Offer
The Boston Herald ^ | 12/1/06 | James Verniere

Posted on 12/01/2006 5:42:28 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta

Are you ready for “The Passion of the Christ: The Prequel”?

The self-explanatory “The Nativity Story” arrives at local theaters in time for the holidays, and it’s a sweet, live-action version of an elementary-school Christmas pageant.

The big story behind the scenes is that Australian Keisha Castle-Hughes, this film’s Blessed Virgin, is pregnant in real life at age 16, which is the kind of publicity money can’t buy. As Mary, she is young, strong and vulnerable, but her performance is a bit of a blank slate.

The action begins with a paranoid Herod ordering the murder of all Hebrew first-born male children to thwart a prophecy that a king will be born to take his place.

In flashbacks, Mary’s Aunt Elizabeth conceives a child at an advanced age, a child who will become Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist, and Mary is visited by the semitransparent, wingless angel Gabriel Joseph, the industrious and handsome young carpenter, lives conveniently across the way from Mary.

Meanwhile, back in Persia, the three Magi - Melchior, Balthasar, and Shemp, I mean, Gaspar) - seem more like the THREE STOOGES than WISE MEN. They’re watching three heavenly bodies align and bickering over whether to mount a camel-borne expedition to the East.

The film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke has less in common with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s neorealistic landmark “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” (1964), Martin Scorsese’s controversial “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) and Mel Gibson’s gore-splattered “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) than with the blandly earnest Hollywood biblical epics of the 1950s and ’60s. Screenwriter Mike Rich followed the leads provided in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

For her part, Hardwicke - who shot in southern Italy, where both Pasolini and Gibson preceded her - brings a refreshingly enlightened view of women’s roles and details the lives of her biblical characters. Mary’s mother, Anna, for example, makes and sells designer goat cheese, which she rolls in thyme, in the village.

The dialogue is in English and Hebrew and advances the plot, but does not reveal much about characters’ inner selves. The film’s climax relies too heavily on canned, choral music. The first of the expected offspring of “The Passion,” “The Nativity Story” is an after-Sunday-school special.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: christmas; film; movie; nativity; nativitystory; thenativitystory
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To: Ellesu
Anyone know why it is PG, I want to take my lower elementary age children to see it?

Probably King Herod's decision to order the murder of all boys under the age of 2, in order to kill the newborn King spoken of by the Magi.

101 posted on 12/01/2006 6:27:43 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: paulat

She is playing Mary, she isn't Mary. Her conduct does not take away from the beauty of the movie.


102 posted on 12/01/2006 6:28:44 PM PST by mware (By all that you hold dear... on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: mware
The woman who played Mary was just perfect, a wonderful choice.

She's not a woman, she's a 16-year-old girl who is pregnant in real life.

103 posted on 12/01/2006 6:29:10 PM PST by paulat (about)
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To: linear

Yep, when an hysterical God-hater makes statements like this, I am encouraged.


104 posted on 12/01/2006 6:29:19 PM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: linear

Yep, when an hysterical God-hater makes statements like this, I am encouraged.


105 posted on 12/01/2006 6:29:21 PM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: mware
She is playing Mary, she isn't Mary. Her conduct does not take away from the beauty of the movie.

FReepers are pretty hypocritical when it comes to actors/actresses politicians, etc., they support or do not support.

If it's something they like, they dismiss personal life. If it's something they DON'T like, well, "PERSONAL character matters!!!"

106 posted on 12/01/2006 6:31:54 PM PST by paulat (about)
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To: paulat

paulat, I love the movie. I do not endorse or condone the actresses lifestyle.


107 posted on 12/01/2006 6:33:59 PM PST by mware (By all that you hold dear... on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: devane617; mware; Dr. Scarpetta
It’s best to think of “The Nativity Story” as a Hollywood version of the kind of Christmas production some of the “Peanuts” kids put on in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” "

Actually, the NYT review was rather flattering for the movie. The end of that quote above was "and that's not a bad thing".

The NYT liked the movie, even though they included the requisite dig on The Passion, like the Boston Herald reviewer did.

108 posted on 12/01/2006 6:34:48 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: mware
paulat, I love the movie. I do not endorse or condone the actresses lifestyle.

A lot of people loved Bill Clinton and didn't "endorse or condone the lifestyle."

What's the diff?

109 posted on 12/01/2006 6:35:18 PM PST by paulat (about)
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To: paulat

By this time everyone knows that the girl playing Mary is pregnant, but we prefer to focus on the biblical story of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. The fact is that the girl playing Mary is pregnant, and while unfortunate, has nothing to do with the nativity story.


110 posted on 12/01/2006 6:37:04 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: paulat
Well Bill Clintons life style had a direct effect upon the way our government functioned especially the last two years of his term.

Her life style does not.

111 posted on 12/01/2006 6:37:16 PM PST by mware (By all that you hold dear... on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: SuziQ

The NYT's actually liked the movie?


112 posted on 12/01/2006 6:39:13 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: mware
Her life style does not.

...so, God does not judge the individual?

...and do you want teenage girls seeing this movie...knowing that the star is knocked up?

113 posted on 12/01/2006 6:39:50 PM PST by paulat (about)
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To: paulat

Do I want teenage girls seeing the movie? By all means yes I do want both male and female teens to see this movie.


114 posted on 12/01/2006 6:43:47 PM PST by mware (By all that you hold dear... on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: paulat

Yes she will be judged, as will we all.


115 posted on 12/01/2006 6:44:56 PM PST by mware (By all that you hold dear... on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: mware
Do I want teenage girls seeing the movie? By all means yes I do want both male and female teens to see this movie.

Thanks for the answer.

It just seems that FReepers excuse personal behavior only when they want to (and I've been a FReeper since 1999!)

116 posted on 12/01/2006 6:47:01 PM PST by paulat (about)
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To: paulat

Yep, I have been a FReeper since Feb of 99 myself.


117 posted on 12/01/2006 6:48:18 PM PST by mware (By all that you hold dear... on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: neodad
When was the last time an elementary school put on a Christmas pageant? If this were in schools today, Joseph would be gay, and Mary would be muslim.

How about Jamaican?

Fury at school's PC Yule song

FURIOUS parents are banning kids from a school party after the head introduced PC versions of festive songs.

He is insisting on a reggae-themed Twelve Days of Christmas with the line “Partridge In A Pear Tree” changed to “Cornbird In A Palm Tree”.

Instead of “Twelve Lords A-Leaping” or “Ten Pipers Piping”, kids will sing about “Six Limbo Dancers” and “Seven Steel Band Beaters”.

Other changes include a ruling that Christmas classic Away In A Manger will not be sung but performed in SIGN LANGUAGE.

And Rocking Around The Christmas Tree becomes Rocking Around The Shops.

The decision to ditch the traditional nativity play in favour of a calypso concert has angered parents.

More than 100 have signed a petition demanding a return to a Christian Christmas — or they will keep their kids away.

Mum Michelle Geddes, 32, said: “I have no problem with the kids learning about other cultures — but now it is Christmas. This is a time for Christian people to celebrate.

“To turn it into some sort of politically correct function with a Caribbean flavour is just not on. They want the kids to sing about Four Pumpkin Pies instead of Turtle Doves and it is just winding all the parents up.

“When it comes to the one tradition we have left they have to go and change it. This is Britain and we want a traditional British Christmas for our kids.”


118 posted on 12/01/2006 6:54:28 PM PST by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: paulat; mware
It just seems that FReepers excuse personal behavior only when they want to (and I've been a FReeper since 1999!)

The producers, directors, authority figures, and adults in this movie didn't abuse, impregnate, or give oral sex to this teenage girl who starred in the movie. This is a 16 yr old girl playing a part in a movie who made a big mistake in her young life. Bill Clinton was the authority figure who abused his office. (and since you seem to think it matters, I've been a Freeper since 1998!)

119 posted on 12/01/2006 6:56:41 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: FreedomCalls

6 limbo dancers??


120 posted on 12/01/2006 7:00:24 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: GodBlessUSA

Ping


121 posted on 12/01/2006 7:08:30 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

"---whether to mount a camel-borne expedition TO the EAST"

Huh????

Hey, dumb-ass "journalist" from Boston, Israel is WEST of Persia.


122 posted on 12/01/2006 7:10:32 PM PST by GadareneDemoniac
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To: GadareneDemoniac

The journalist is clueless in more ways than one.


123 posted on 12/01/2006 7:12:38 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

No kidding, and I posted my comment before reading that several sharp-eyed Freepers had caught the geographical capabilities of this dunce reviewer.

Ah, well, read twice, post once.


124 posted on 12/01/2006 7:19:11 PM PST by GadareneDemoniac
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To: GadareneDemoniac

Are you going to see the movie?


125 posted on 12/01/2006 7:22:27 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I plan to after reading this "review". May try to find it on DVD also.


126 posted on 12/01/2006 7:24:27 PM PST by GadareneDemoniac
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

If the star of "Passion of the Christ" had been revealed to be gay, there would be holy hell to pay here on FR, and you know it.

FReepers pay attention to private lives when it suits them.

...and I am saying that because of discussions on:

Clinton
Gingrich
Guiliani
etc.


127 posted on 12/01/2006 7:27:10 PM PST by paulat (about)
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To: paulat

We're talking about a 16 yr old girl, not Clinton,
Gingrich, or Guiliani.


128 posted on 12/01/2006 7:33:49 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta



129 posted on 12/01/2006 7:50:52 PM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

Yes, surprisingly, the NYT reviewer did like it!


130 posted on 12/01/2006 7:50:58 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

Intellectual dishonesty...you are not answering the question the way I put it.


131 posted on 12/01/2006 7:51:09 PM PST by paulat (about)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
My family and I saw the movie this evening. Very well done. Mary and Joseph are believable, first in their belief, and then their commitment to the miracle they are part of. The Herods, fils et pere, are merciless human monsters - the father with lunatics eyes and son with dead lizard eyes. The Magi are likeable and awestruck as the prophecy unfolds. The scenery is well done, too. A few moments of violence might have small ones clinging to their parents, but there is no overt gore. A brief hand over their eyes will shield those little eye-gates. It is a fine retelling of the old story and a great start to the Christmas season. We'll certainly be adding to our dvd collection as soon as it comes out.

Oh, and bring a tissue. You may get a little choked up.

132 posted on 12/01/2006 7:51:31 PM PST by Ol' Sox
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To: Ol' Sox

Thank you! Looking forward to seeing it tomorrow...


133 posted on 12/01/2006 7:53:35 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta; narses; Pyro7480; murphE; Aquinasfan; Canticle_of_Deborah; Robert Drobot; ...
I just came back from seeing "The Nativity."

I must say that I was underwhelmed.

Granted, Mel Gibson has set the standard extremely high. His cinematic genius and fervent conviction permeate every frame of "The Passion." I found nothing remotely like that in "The Nativity."

Gibson worked with Scripture, the evidence of the Shroud, age-old traditions, and the visions of mystics like Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich and Ven. Mary of Agreda to compose his script. His decision to use Aramaic, his narrative structure comparing Calvary to the Last Supper, and his depiction of Satan are just a few examples of the genius Gibson brought to "The Passion" as a man driven by his convictions to tell a story from a singular perspective.

By contrast, "The Nativity" is obviously the work of Hollywood committees and board rooms. Everyone involved does his or her job; some better than others. But there is no spirit in the work.

In an interview, Hardwick was asked whether she believed in miracles, and she hemmed and hawed a sort of "Who knows?" response. She said that when her agent sent her the script, she was put off by the idea at first. She was proud to say that the film was influenced by the the writings of Fr. Raymond Brown, a historico-critical demythologizer.

I'll take Anne Catherine Emmerich over Raymond Brown any day of the week, thankyouverymuch.

I could scarcely recognize the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph in their portrayals. I definitly did not recognize Saint Joachim or Saint Anna the way they were performed.

There's a lot of attention to historical detail in the architecture and worklife of the period, but that does not replace the need for a vision if a film is going to be above-average cinematically.

Go see it and reward New Line for doing this much, because if this film makes enough profit other writers and directors will have an easier time getting other biblical or religious films made.

But for inspiration, I think I'll look for a well-done "elementary-school Christmas pageant."

134 posted on 12/02/2006 12:08:34 AM PST by Dajjal (See my FR homepage for new essay about Ahmadinejad.)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
"It's a sweet live-action version of an elementary school Christmas pageant."

What about "The Nativity Story" does the "critic" not understand. DUH!

It's good to have a something "Normal" released at Christmas time-Instead of the usual Hollyweird uplifting holiday fare like:

Chainsaw-Massacre-Ax-Murder-Millions-of-Gallons-of-Blood- Torture-and-Pain-2-Hours-of-Continuous-Horrified-Non-Stop-Screaming Part 92 in the series.

Or the classy and tasteful:

Sleazy-Dirty-Alcoholic-Drug-Addicted-Anal-Sex-Scummy-Santa-Who-Dies-in-a-Hail-of-Gunfire.
(This was a real movie-"Bad Santa" released at Christmas time a few years ago.)

So far, "The Nativity Story" and the new James Bond movie "Casino Royale" are the only films I'm interested in seeing.

135 posted on 12/02/2006 12:57:14 AM PST by Pajamajan (Pray for president Bush-pray for our military-pray for our congress-pray for our nation)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
Thank you so much for the ping to this discussion of this movie. I do want to see it, just don't know when I will be able to! I love that there is opposition to it! I love that New Line is involved! I love that Jesus is making sure the Gospel is going out to all the earth in so many good forms in our day! I love that I know Him and that none of these things are strange - lol, or "boring" - to me!
136 posted on 12/02/2006 3:14:15 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: paulat

If what you say is true, I thank God she's not killing her baby! This young lady has portrayed two brave females in grand movies (Whalerider, Nativity) and if she is pregnant at 16 and not choosing abortion in this day and culture she is exemplifying the bravery of selfless womanhood in her own life, bucking the establishment and swimming upstream against a tide of public opinion such as yours. Bravo! Hooray! Hallelujah! God bless her!


137 posted on 12/02/2006 3:23:39 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: paulat
For your edification. God bless you with wisdom from above.
138 posted on 12/02/2006 3:38:25 AM PST by .30Carbine
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To: Dajjal

I'll let you know what I think when I get back from seeing it today.


139 posted on 12/02/2006 5:21:20 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Pajamajan
It's good to have a something "Normal" released at Christmas time-Instead of the usual Hollyweird uplifting holiday fare like: Chainsaw-Massacre-Ax-Murder-Millions-of-Gallons-of-Blood- Torture-and-Pain-2-Hours-of-Continuous-Horrified-Non-Stop-Screaming Part 92 in the series. Or the classy and tasteful: Sleazy-Dirty-Alcoholic-Drug-Addicted-Anal-Sex-Scummy-Santa-Who-Dies-in-a-Hail-of-Gunfire. (This was a real movie-"Bad Santa" released at Christmas time a few years ago.) So far, "The Nativity Story" and the new James Bond movie "Casino Royale" are the only films I'm interested in seein

You are so right. I have an elderly mother who is not well, and I like to take her to the movies to get her out. The problem is the movies are sick and getting sicker. As I mentioned earlier, I took her to the movies last week, and I had to drive out of town to find a theater that was showing 'The Queen.'

140 posted on 12/02/2006 5:25:47 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: .30Carbine
I do want to see it, just don't know when I will be able to! I love that there is opposition to it! I love that New Line is involved! I love that Jesus is making sure the Gospel is going out to all the earth in so many good forms in our day! I love that I know Him and that none of these things are strange - lol, or "boring" - to me!

Liberal reviewers can't help but write their deep, down negative thoughts about the Christmas story, which is probably boring to them. They're not looking for peace in their hearts, and the bottom line is that they all probably like 'Borat' much better. Hopefully the public will turn out this weekend before the numbers get published Mon.

141 posted on 12/02/2006 5:35:15 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: .30Carbine
I thank God she's not killing her baby! This young lady has portrayed two brave females in grand movies (Whalerider, Nativity) and if she is pregnant at 16 and not choosing abortion in this day and culture she is exemplifying the bravery of selfless womanhood in her own life, bucking the establishment and swimming upstream against a tide of public opinion such as yours. Bravo! Hooray! Hallelujah! God bless her!

AMEN!

142 posted on 12/02/2006 5:37:02 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
The film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke has less in common with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s neorealistic landmark “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” (1964), Martin Scorsese’s controversial “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) and Mel Gibson’s gore-splattered “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) than with the blandly earnest Hollywood biblical epics of the 1950s and ’60s.

Like The Ten Commandments? Oh yeah, that was a terrible flick.(sarc)

143 posted on 12/02/2006 7:29:44 AM PST by TradicalRC ("...this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever..."-Pope St. Pius V)
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To: Dajjal
Thanks for your review and I mean that for the sake of discussion here on FR. It takes many viewpoints to make a great discussion and so if I disagree with you, it isn't personal - just a different subjective pov.

That said, I especially enjoyed the movie not for its cinematic excellence but for its portrayal of innocence in the face of evil. At the time of the miracle of Jesus' birth, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph were just regular folks without 2,000 years of veneration on their shoulders. Just plain old Joseph and Mary, faced with a spiritual dilemma, to obey dreams and visions and suffer as outcasts in their community, or toe the worldly line and deny God's calling for them. As the movie unfolds, they support each other in their convictions, and do what must be done even though they are essentially the only ones aware of their "mission" (aside from Elizabeth).

The movie brought realism to the story. God uses ostensibly ordinary people to set in motion His grand plan. They become extraordinary only after they have accomplished God's task for them. What is more normal than a girl of 13 torn between the desire to frolic with friends and obedience to her parents. Or a new father-to-be panicing to get his wife to the birthing place?

The Nativity Story doesn't need to be a blockbuster to get my attention. Jesus was quietly born in a barn, attended only by His parents and farm animals, and soon thereafter by a small group of the highest and lowest in society. For me the movie is a beautiful Christmas card to be placed on my mantelpiece - I don't give a care if the card was made by Hallmark.

It appeals to me because it tells the human story of the birth of Jesus, how all of our souls hung in the balance. How the faithful obedience of two humble people overcame the grasping and murderous intent of Herod.

My family was extremely pleased with this movie. I urge you all to place your worldly cynicism aside and go see this movie through innocent eyes. You will love it.

144 posted on 12/02/2006 8:47:11 AM PST by Ol' Sox
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
Holy Bore?

Probably a bore Because it is holy.

145 posted on 12/02/2006 11:30:39 AM PST by TradicalRC ("...this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever..."-Pope St. Pius V)
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To: TradicalRC

This is a telling of the traditional story. He wants another movie rather than the one he is looking at.


146 posted on 12/02/2006 11:32:51 AM PST by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
[ Meanwhile, back in Persia, the three Magi - Melchior, Balthasar, and Shemp, I mean, Gaspar) - seem more like the THREE STOOGES than WISE MEN. They’re watching three heavenly bodies align and bickering over whether to mount a camel-borne expedition to the East. ]

LoL......

147 posted on 12/02/2006 11:49:40 AM PST by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole)
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To: Ol' Sox; mware; .30Carbine; Dajjal; SuziQ; Liberty Valance; GadareneDemoniac; RobbyS; TradicalRC; ..
The Nativity Story doesn't need to be a blockbuster to get my attention. Jesus was quietly born in a barn, attended only by His parents and farm animals, and soon thereafter by a small group of the highest and lowest in society. For me the movie is a beautiful Christmas card to be placed on my mantelpiece - I don't give a care if the card was made by Hallmark. It appeals to me because it tells the human story of the birth of Jesus, how all of our souls hung in the balance.

I agree with Ol' Sox who wrote the above. I also did not regard the movie as a blockbuster, just a simple and beautiful story of the birth of Jesus. And what a birth it was. The sheer stunning exhilaration of seeing the baby Jesus being born brought tears to my eyes. I was also especially impressed with the actor who played Joseph.

After the movie, I couldn't help thinking that because of the birth of Jesus and his message of love and forgiveness, the world became civilized. I hope Christians around the world will go to see it. The theater where I saw it was not crowded.

148 posted on 12/02/2006 2:27:00 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

That's too bad (the theatre wasn't very crowded). I was hoping they would have large crowds and show Hollywood there really is a market for uplifting movies instead of all the cra# that is out there.


149 posted on 12/02/2006 3:16:22 PM PST by Arizona Carolyn
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To: Arizona Carolyn

I'm waiting to see if my pastor mentions the movie in church tomorrow morning.


150 posted on 12/02/2006 3:25:09 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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