Skip to comments.Holy Bore: The New Movie ‘Nativity Story’ Has No New Blessings to Offer
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 its a sweet, live-action version of an elementary-school Christmas pageant.
The big story behind the scenes is that Australian Keisha Castle-Hughes, this films Blessed Virgin, is pregnant in real life at age 16, which is the kind of publicity money cant 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, Marys Aunt Elizabeth conceives a child at an advanced age, a child who will become Christs 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. Theyre 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 Pasolinis neorealistic landmark The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), Martin Scorseses controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Mel Gibsons 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 womens roles and details the lives of her biblical characters. Marys 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 films 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.
"---whether to mount a camel-borne expedition TO the EAST"
Hey, dumb-ass "journalist" from Boston, Israel is WEST of Persia.
The journalist is clueless in more ways than one.
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.
Are you going to see the movie?
I plan to after reading this "review". May try to find it on DVD also.
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:
We're talking about a 16 yr old girl, not Clinton,
Gingrich, or Guiliani.
Yes, surprisingly, the NYT reviewer did like it!
Intellectual dishonesty...you are not answering the question the way I put it.
Oh, and bring a tissue. You may get a little choked up.
Thank you! Looking forward to seeing it tomorrow...
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."
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:
(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.
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!
I'll let you know what I think when I get back from seeing it today.
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.'