Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #19 The Nativity Story

The Nativity Story (2006)

      The Nativity Story is a beautiful film depicting the events leading up to and including the birth of Jesus. The movie begins with a teenage girl, Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) that has been betrothed to an older man names Joseph (Oscar Isaac). She is not happy with this arrangement as she hardly knows the man and certainly does not love him.

     Soon after, an angel of God appears to Mary to tell her that she has been chosen to carry and deliver the Son of God. The angel also informs her of her cousin Elizabeth's pregnancy, a woman that is well past the age of child-bearing. She accepts the angel's request and then travels to visit Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo).

    Upon arrival, Mary finds that Elizabeth already knows about her impending pregnancy. She explains the fact that her own child leapt inside her womb is how she knew. She remains with Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah (Stanley Townsend) until the birth of her new cousin, John.

    She returns home, noticeably pregnant, and to the shock of both her parents and fiance. Neither believe her story of the angel and instead worry about her life being ended as punishment for violating the vows of marriage. Joseph agrees not to press charges but no longer wants to marry her. But soon after the same angel appears to him and verifies Mary's story, she is indeed carrying the Son of God. He accepts this new found truth and agrees to take Mary as his wife and now they are both shunned by the town.

    Meanwhile, Caesar Augustus demands that every man and his family must return to his place of birth for a census. Mary decides to take this arduous journey with Joseph as he returns to Bethlehem, his birthplace. They must travel across rocky terrain, with the almost due Mary riding on the back of a donkey. During the weeks of this journey, she begins seeing Joseph in a different light. He is a caring, self-sacrificing man and their love grows toward one another.

    While these events are happening, there is also a second storyline in the film. One that is told about the three magi that have studied the prophecy of the Messiah. After they are also visited by an angel, they are told to follow the Star of Bethlehem to find the newborn King. They set off on their journey to find him but stop over in Jerusalem first where they encounter evil King Herod. He is concerned about this prophecy because he believes that this new king will cause an uprising against him. The three magi inform him that the new king is an infant and not a grown man. He then pretends to want to welcome this child and asks the magi to return to him once they find the newborn and give him the exact location so that he too can worship him.

   When we find Mary and Joseph again, they have finally reached Bethlehem but Mary has gone into labor. They are searching throughout the town for a room to rent but due to the masses of people returning for the census, there are none. The only shelter available is a stable that is offered by an innkeeper. They accept his offer and are grateful.

   After Mary gives birth to Jesus, three stars line up and a bright light shines down upon them. They are visited by shepherds that were also sent by an angel of God. And not far behind them, the three magi appear, bearing gifts of gold, frankinsence and myrrh. Mary tells them that the baby has been born as a saviour for all of mankind.

   The three magi do not return the way they came nor do they plan on reporting back to Herod. Angered by what he considers a betrayal, he demands every boy up to the age of two in Bethlehem murdered to prevent being usurped from his throne. But an angel appears to Joseph once again and warns him just in time. Just as the infanticides begin, he, Mary and his newborn son Jesus are leaving the town and on their way to Egypt.

   This is a beautiful, dramatic telling of the Biblical account of Jesus' birth. I would highly recommend watching this with your children (it's rated PG) as this will help them to better understand the true story of Christmas.

   Merry Christmas & God Bless!



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