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The Nativity Story [DVD] [2006]

4.6 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JPDC

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
When you're talking about film adaptations of the story of Christ's birth, the old rubric "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" just does not apply. That is especially the case with The Nativity Story, a truly wonderful film that conveys great spiritual power, even as it brings home the humanity of Mary and Joseph to a degree few of its predecessors ever even attempted. Keisha Castle-Hughes is wonderful as young Mary, but I tend to look upon this film as Joseph's story, and Oscar Isaac is more than up to the task of bringing this humble carpenter to vivid life.

The Nativity Story basically tells the story of Mary and Joseph from the time Mary is betrothed and then finds out she is to give birth to God's Son up through the time of Jesus' birth and the family's evacuation to Egypt. It does an exceptional job of humanizing Mary and Joseph. At 14, Mary is on the brink of womanhood, and early on we are treated with several moments showing us a glimpse of the normal child she was. Her sudden betrothal to Joseph is not something she welcomes, but we see it as a reality of family survival in those troubled times under the double domination of Herod and Rome. When the angel appears to her, she accepts the good news he brings - yet she doesn't completely believe it until she finds her much older cousin Elizabeth carrying the child who would be Jesus' messenger. Her most trying time comes when she returns home. A lot of adaptations tend to gloss over this part. Put yourself in her place, though - she's a 14-year-old girl, betrothed to a good man, who returns home with a child she claims to have been miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit. Her story was even less plausible back then than it would be today.
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Format: DVD
In the village of Nazareth, the young woman Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is a daughter in a struggling family. They barely make enough to eat and pay the taxes when the Roman soldiers come through town. That's why when Joseph the carpenter (Oscar Isaac) proposes a marriage with Mary, her father quickly accepts. While she is not happy with the arranged marriage, her life gets much more complicated when the Angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) appears and tells her she will bear the Messiah.

Meanwhile, three Magi are studying the night sky. As they see three stars coming together, they conclude that prophecy is being fulfilled and a great king is being born. They set out to find this child. And King Herod (Ciaran Hinds) continues his paranoia over his thrown. The same prophecies worry him. Is there a new threat to his throne?

When a movie tells a familiar story, it faces an uphill battle. It must find a way to draw the viewer into the events even though they know the outcome. This movie almost succeeded for me. I was pulled in most of the time watching these characters from the Biblical story brought to life. The friends I saw it with loved it and were deeply moved by it. At times, however, I found the low budget a bit of a distraction.

The producers of the film try to present the story with as little flash as possible. Since the story is set 2000 years ago, it mostly works. I did spot the occasional matte painting in the background, but was willing to forgive this "low tech" approach. What did bother me were scenes at the end that needed extras like the empty town of Bethlehem and the missing Angel chorus.

There was much to enjoy about the movie, however. The costumes and sets were wonderful.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's the best film I've ever seen about the nativity, before I saw it I had read a review that said the film lacked drama, it's true there are no epic battle scenes or anything of that kind but what you will find is a warm and moving film about the lives of two ordinary people caught up in something extraordinary. The casting is excellent and the standard of acting superb. The film fills in the gaps of the story without really straying from the biblical account. It makes you realise the implications of an unmarried young woman being pregnant in those times and how Joseph and their friends and family would have reacted. The film firmly puts the story in the context of the times and the Roman occupation by showing the hardships and difficulties they would have to face. It is very easy to empathise with the characters of Mary and Joseph and I like the sensitive way they were portrayed. The whole film has a really good sense of realism, the costumes and the locations are excellent. It may not be a big budget film but there is no sense that the movie suffered because of this. Only one small criticism, I did miss was the "multitude" of angels appearing to the shepherds.
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By Kona TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Jan. 2007
Format: DVD
You know the plot: After young Mary is betrothed to an older man, she is told by an angel that she will bear God's son. She could be stoned for this pregnancy, but Joseph has a dream from God explaining the truth and he takes her as his wife. They must make the difficult journey to Bethlehem for the census, and they arrive just in time for the baby's arrival in a stable.

It is a lovely story, told quite simply and tastefully. The costumes and village sets are authentic-looking, rough-hewn in earth-tones. The international cast features Keisha Castle-Hughes as a straightforward and uncomplaining Mary, used to hard work and the tyranny of the Romans. Oscar Isaac is a warm and protective Joseph. Shohreh Aghdashloo is wonderful as Mary's cousin Elizabeth; in fact, the entire cast is convincing.

The movie is suitable for all ages and I hope it becomes a tradition to show it on television every year. It's a simple tale, happily lacking in Hollywood razzle-dazzle, beautifully photographed and respectfully directed. Highly recommended.
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