This movie came out last year so the review is a little late. However, it has been making the rounds on cable/SAT TV and is certainly available on DVD. I watched it for the second time last week.
It is a great movie.
Of course, it is not the first movie to depict the events of the birth of Christ, but I think it may be the best.
A few things struck me in particular about the movie:
It was well researched and well done. It takes us back to 4 B.C. Judea or thereabouts. We see the culture and life of the Jews at that time living under Roman occupation.
The movie focuses on that period between the annunciation to Mary and the birth of Jesus. It brings to light the scorn that Mary must have received after becoming pregnant while betrothed to Joseph. Indeed, she was subject to execution by stoning by virtue of the fact that she became pregnant out of wedlock. Her visit with Elizabeth brings a brief respite from this cultural shunning because only Elizabeth knows the truth. The moment Mary and Elizabeth meet is made sweeter as a result because we can she Mary’s burden lift as she realizes she can share what is happening to her with her cousin.
So too with Joseph, we see his character revealed when he is told that Mary is pregnant. He refuses to make any accusation against her (he knows this would lead to her death) though he feels bitterly betrayed. This reaction in itself brings disapproval from his peers. They believe he is being weak and acting contrary to his duty.
Once Gabriel tells Joseph what has happened to Mary, a bond is formed between these young people. Joseph tells her that he will declare the child as his own and they will marry. Rather than save Mary from scorn, this act means Joseph will share in it. Both Joseph and Mary are shunned by their friends. But, this only brings them together. When the order for the census comes, it is almost a relief for them to leave Nazareth.
The magi were also a highlight of the movie. They are sort of the comic relief, almost mad scientist-like, in the way they obsess over the meaning of heavenly occurrence they anticipate. They research ancient Hebrew scripture and determine for themselves what significance of the “star.”
All of this leads to the moment of the birth, and it is beautiful. What a wonderful way to remind yourself of the true meaning of Christmas. Of course, another way is to attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship or both.
Just FYI, Our Savior Lutheran will have Christmas Eve service at 7:00 P.M. and Christmas Day Communion Service at 9:30 A.M. Merry Christmas!