The Nativity Story

  • Film
  • Drama
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Destined – and no doubt designed – to attract coachloads of the Midwestern pious, ‘The Nativity Story’ yearns to do a Mel Gibson at the box-office – but without the same blood, tears, pantomime Jews or anything else controversial. That said, director Catherine Hardwicke, a veteran of two movies about American teenagers, ‘Thirteen’ and ‘Lords of Dogtown’, strives to break with school-play conventions by stressing the human as well as spiritual side of the story of the immaculate conception and virgin birth. Hardwicke’s Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes, the lead from ‘Whale Rider’) is fully flesh and not a little concerned by the unexpected gift in her womb; her Joseph (Oscar Isaac), meanwhile, is rightly suspicious when his new wife, still a virgin, announces that she is carrying the Lord’s child. There are further hints of realism: Mary and Joseph find their trek across the desert hard-going and there’s even a birthing scene, with sweaty brows and groaning, although the camera doesn’t dare venture below Mary’s shoulders and Hardwicke stops at having Joseph grab Mary’s hand and yell ‘Push!’.

Still, the earnest, Christmas-card spin on the nativity wins out, and Hardwicke more serves her material than shapes it. You expect Charlton Heston to wander out from the shadows: there are shafts of light from the heavens; a murky and stodgy sense of time and place; and costumes straight from Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s video for ‘The Power of Love’. For all the director’s nods at realism, this is biblical reconstruction of the sort that will only fully engage those who can invest religious meaning in its narrative. For non-believers, it’s a bit of a snooze.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday December 8 2006
Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Screenwriter: Mike Rich
Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes
Oscar Isaac
Hiam Abbas
Shaun Toub
Ciarán Hinds
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Stanley Townsend
Alexander Siddig
Nadim Sawalha
Eriq Ebouaney
Stefan Kalipha
Alessandro Giuggioli
Farida Ouchani
Saïd Amadis

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Peter Hawkes

The film is brilliant and beautifully acted. The whole story is brought together faithfully representing the Old Testament prophesies and New Testament Gospels. A bit of licence is acceptable in representing the Magi. The Bible does not mention the number nor any names. The film was truly moving and at the end I felt I had to turn the TV off as watching 'entertainment' would not then have been appropriate. This is a must-see film for all Christians and for those seeking to know Christ.

Peter Hawkes

The film is brilliant and beautifully acted. The whole story is brought together faithfully representing the Old Testament prophesies and New Testament Gospels. A bit of licence is acceptable in representing the Magi. The Bible does not mention the number nor any names. The film was truly moving and at the end I felt I had to turn the TV off as watching 'entertainment' would not then have been appropriate. This is a must-see film for all Christians and for those seeking to know Christ.