The Nativity Story – Review

A guest review by Steven (Jason’s kid brother)

The Nativity is the live-action retelling of the birth of Jesus. For Christians everywhere, its story is the reason for the celebration of Christmas. In order to fully understand the movie, some familiarity with the story of the birth of Jesus is required, so if you’ve never been to church or read the Bible, it might all seem a little weird to you.

While my brother is a devout Catholic and we were both raised in Protestant churches, I am no longer particularly religious. That doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t appreciate a good story. It was easy to sympathize with a young Mary. She was from a poor family, betrothed to Joseph, supposedly a virgin, and yet still somehow pregnant. An angel told her that she would give birth to Jesus, but she was the only one he spoke to. With the exception of Joseph, no one else in town heard from the angel and Mary’s pregnancy was not exactly considered proper.

The Magi provide the comic relief in the movie. Reading through prophecy and observing the stars, one of them decides to follow the star to Israel eventually ending up in Bethlehem with the others. During the journey, they banter back and forth with one another about whether or not leaving home was a good idea. After they meet the baby Jesus, though, the three Wise Men leave happy that they made the trip.

The story has two substantial deviations from the Biblical text. Both of the occur after the birth of Jesus. In the first one, the Magi are leaving Bethlehem. In the Bible, an angel came to them and told them not to return to see King Herod. The movie, on the other hand, shows one of the Wise Men telling the others that he thinks it would be a bad idea to see Herod before their return home.

The second deviation from the Bible occurs when the angel appears to the shepherds at night. The Bible says that a choir of angels appeared, but the movie does not show them. Perhaps the special effects budget was to blame for that deviation, but it was still disappointing. This could very well have been the best scene in the movie.

The Nativity is a worthwhile Christmas movie. Despite a couple of intense scenes where pregnant women (first Elisabeth, then Mary) are giving birth, the movie is family-friendly. For those who enjoy the story, it could be an enjoyable way to spend Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day.

3 stars (out of four)