Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Nativity Story

Three Wise Men in The Nativity Story
Three Wise Men
Yesterday we went to see The Nativity Story at our local cinema. Immediately it seemed familiar. Although it was faithful to the traditional Christmas story, it included a lot that was very similar to something that I'd seen before, in a documentary that Mark had been interviewed for, entitled The Virgin Mary (Mary the Mother of Jesus in the US).

It was filmed in Matera, Italy and in Ouarzazate, Morocco (Dune Films), both of which are locations that are often used to double-up as The Holy Land. The Virgin Mary was also filmed at Ouarzazate. The Birth of Jesus in The Nativity Story
The Stable Scene
Mark recognised parts of the scenery from when he went out to Ouarzazate to be interviewed for another documentary, St Paul. Around that time, I also had an acquaintance who was German by birth but whose family came from the Ouarzazate area of Morocco and he often visited there. He said that film crews in that area are a familiar sight. It's fairly common for locals to be hired as extras (which one can see in The Nativity Story). Another good source of income for locals is to be paid to get anything vaguely modern out of sight or to not hang their washing out where it would get in the way of the shot setups on the day of filming.

Shohreh Aghdashloo in The Nativity Story
Shohreh Aghdashloo
It starred Keisha Castle-Hughes (The Whale Rider) as Mary and Shohreh Aghdashloo (24) as Elizabeth.

The film has received quite a few bad reviews, but you needn't believe them. I am flummoxed as to what these reviewers want and how a retelling of the nativity story could be done in a way that would satisfy them. Although the film was by no means perfect, I have to admit to have thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end and it made me feel extremely Christmassy just in time for the start of Advent. If you haven't yet done so, go and see it. Unless you're a smart-alec reviewer or prone to nit-picking, you'll probably enjoy it.

Here's Mark's take on it.

1 comment:

Lorraine said...

Thanks for writing this, Viola. I haven't actually read any of the reviews but I knew they weren't positive and yet the previews have looked very intriguing. I don't usually buy into the "culture warriors" view that "The Media" is anti-Christian. But it does seem that when someone tries to do something with a clearly religious theme that it gets bashed to bits out of the box. I look forward to seeing the movie.