The Nativity Story
|The Nativity Story|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Catherine Hardwicke|
|Produced by||Toby Emmerich
Tim Van Rellim
|Written by||Mike Rich|
|Music by||Mychael Danna|
|Editing by||Robert K. Lambert
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Running time||101 minutes|
The Nativity Story is a 2006 epic biblical drama film based on the nativity of Jesus starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Shohreh Aghdashloo. Filming began on May 1, 2006, in Matera, Italy, and Ouarzazate, Morocco. Other scenes were shot in Craco, ghost town in the Italian region of Basilicata, and Cinecittà, Rome. New Line Cinema released it on December 1, 2006, in the United States and one week later on December 8 in the European Union. The film made history as being the first film ever to stage its world premiere in Vatican City.
The plot begins with the portrayal of the Massacre of the Innocents. The remainder of the movie portrays the annunciation (conception) and nativity (birth) of Jesus Christ to explain why Herod the Great (Ciarán Hinds) ordered the murder.
A teenaged girl named Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes), betrothed to marry Joseph of Judaea (Oscar Isaac), is visited by the Angel Gabriel and told that she will become pregnant with God's son, whom she is to name "Jesus". He then tells that her God has blessed her cousin Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo) with a child despite her old age. Mary asks her parents and Joseph could she visit with Elizabeth before the harvest, where she witnesses the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth and her husband the priest Zachariah (Stanley Townsend), who regains his speech after he refused to believe the Angel Gabriel's news that he would have a son. Mary returns from the visit pregnant, to the shock of Joseph and her parents, who fear that Joseph will accuse her of fornication, a sin punishable with death by stoning according to the Mosaic Law. At first Joseph does not believe Mary's explanation that she was visited by an angel, but decides not to accuse her. Although he is still shocked and angry, Joseph is later visited in a dream by the Angel Gabriel, who tells him of God's plan for Mary's son. Joseph then believes Mary, and is ashamed for his earlier doubts.
Meanwhile, Caesar Augustus has demanded that every man and his family across the Roman Empire must return to his place of birth for the census. As a direct descendant of King David, Joseph is forced to travel 110 kilometers (68 mi) across Palestine's rocky terrain from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the place of his birth. With Mary on a donkey laden with supplies, the couple took nearly four weeks to reach Bethlehem. Upon arriving in town, Mary goes into labour, and Joseph frantically seeks a place for her to deliver. There is, however, no room in any inn or home partly because of the census, but at the last minute an innkeeper offers his stable for shelter.
Meanwhile, three Magi named Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, travel towards Judaea after having previously discovered that three planets will align to form a great star. This Star of Bethlehem appears before the Magi, after a visit by the Angel Gabriel. The Magi visit King Herod the Great and reveal to him that the Messiah is still a child and he will be a Messiah 'for the lowest of men to the highest of kings'. Shocked by this, Herod asks that they visit the newborn Messiah and report the child's location back to him, under the pretence that he, too, would like to worship him. Later, the Magi arrive at the stable in which Mary is giving birth to Jesus, and they present the Infant with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
After having been warned by the Angel in a dream, the Magi avoid Herod, but return to their home via a different route. King Herod realises that the Magi have tricked him, and carries out his plan of killing every boy in Bethlehem up to the age of two. Joseph is warned in a dream of the danger and flees with Mary and the Child Jesus to Egypt.
- Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary
- Shohreh Aghdashloo as Elizabeth
- Oscar Isaac as Joseph
- Stanley Townsend as Zechariah
- Ciarán Hinds as King Herod
- Alessandro Giuggioli as Prince Antipas
- Hiam Abbass as Anna
- Shaun Toub as Joachim
- Alexander Siddig as The angel Gabriel
The Nativity Story opened to a modest first weekend at the domestic box office by grossing $7.8 million, with a 39% increase over the extended Christmas weekend. After its initial run, the film closed out with about $37.6 million in domestic gross and $8.8 million in foreign gross, resulting in a worldwide total of almost $46.4 million on a reported $35 million budget.
The movie received mixed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 38% of 128 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.3 out of 10. Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 52 based on 28 reviews.
A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review saying, "At its best, The Nativity Story shares with Hail Mary an interest in finding a kernel of realism in the old story of a pregnant teenager in hard times. Buried in the pageantry, in other words, is an interesting movie." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post concluded a positive review of the film stating, "The most intriguing thing about The Nativity Story transpires during the couple's extraordinary personal journey, advancing a radical idea in an otherwise long slog of a cinematic Sunday school lesson: that Jesus became who He was not only because He was the son of God, but because He was the son of a good man."
Conversely, many critics felt that the film did not take the story to new cinematic heights. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly noted, "The Nativity Story is a film of tame picture-book sincerity, but that's not the same thing as devotion. The movie is too tepid to feel, or see, the light." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, "This is not a chance to 'experience the most timeless of stories as you've never seen it before' but just the opposite: an opportunity, for those who want it, to encounter this story exactly the way it's almost always been told."
A discussion arose during filming when Keisha Castle-Hughes became pregnant out of wedlock.
- "Nativity (2006) Filming Locations". IMDB. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for December 1-3, 2006". IMDB. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "The Nativity Story (2006) – Weekend Box Office Results". IMDB. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "The Nativity Story (2006)". IMDB. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "The Nativity Story – Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "The Nativity Story". CBS Interactive. Metacritic. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- Scott, A. O. (1 December 2006). "The Virgin Mary as a Teenager With Worries". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- Hornaday, Ann (1 December 2006). "Chapter and Verse". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- Gleiberman, Owen (29 November 2006). "The Nativity Story (2006)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- Turan, Kenneth (1 December 2012). "'The Nativity Story': A "Story" told with too much naiveté". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "Introducing Felicity-Amore Hull — Keisha speaks about her labor, delivery, and new little girl". People. 8 June 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- Nominations Announced for 39th GMA Dove Awards on CBN.com (February 14, 2008)
- Nativity Story: Sacred Songs on Amazon