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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
The Nativity Story [DVD] (2006)
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on 30 July 2017
There are some terrific performances in this, and the scenes are dusty and raw enough to seem real. Ciaren Hinds is perfect as Herod, while the 3 Magi are an entertainment in themselves. A great alternative to the more syruppy films, a good film film for helping children see the scriptures as real rather than a mere story
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on 15 May 2017
Great film, staying true to the Bible with a plausible cast. Paced with adventure and back story. One of the best cinematic films I've seen for a long time.
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on 30 October 2017
Believe it!
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on 7 September 2015
A great story, very well filmed, not over the top. Filmed the way it should be.
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on 27 April 2017
Great for the true meaning of Christmas
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on 14 March 2017
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 March 2007
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. Also accurate was the depiction of the times in which the story takes place. We often forget the harsh treatment from the Romans and the consequences for both Mary and Joseph because of her pregnancy.

The performances are also great. Herod's mental illness comes through, yet he is very menacing. The Magi are lots of fun and provide some light moments. Absolutely perfect are Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac as Mary and Joseph. They are likable, have good chemistry, and expertly show their characters' struggles.

The ending of the movie is very moving as the shepherds and Magi arrive to pay tribute to Jesus. And I'll grant the producers artistic license on this. I doubt they were there at the same time, but it makes for a better movie.

A bigger budget could have made this a better movie. Still, it is good because it shows the human elements and consequences we tend to gloss over in our annual Christmas celebrations.
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on 10 April 2007
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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on 23 March 2007
I enjoyed watching The Nativity Story, and felt it was an interesting, entertaining and worthwhile entry in what is a well-trodden path in the world of film-making. However, in order to see value in this film, one must keep in mind that it is not a blow-by-blow account of the events recorded in the Gospels, but an attempt to expand on and explain what has been written there. In fact, I would go so far as to the say that many times The Nativity Story is really about trying to read-between the lines of what we find in the Gospels. For example, the film picks up on the fact that Mary could have been stoned to death under Jewish religious law for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock, even though no mention of this is found in the Gospels. In fact, one thing the film does very well is to place the Nativity story into a definite social and religious historical context. These were different and difficult times, and by the end of the film one really has good sense of exactly what kind of commitment Joseph made to Mary by agreeing to marry her, even though she was pregnant.

However, saying that the purists amongst viewers of The Nativity Story will not like it, as it does tend to focus on elements which are not specifically recorded in the Gospels. For instance, a good 15-20 minutes of the film is spent tracing Joseph and Mary's journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, in order to show how they both grew closer to each other and how their relationship developed. Yet in the Gospels, this journey is merely noted by the comment, 'So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child' (Luke 2:4f). There is also the suggestion that Mary and Joseph might have influenced Jesus in some of his teachings, through things they experienced along their journey. For instance, in a conversation with a shepherd one can hear echoes of Jesus' parables about the Talents and the Good Samaritan. Saying that, there are also interesting moments such as when Joseph and Mary discuss how they will know Jesus is the Messiah, and whether this will be due to something he says or does. It is at times like these when I appreciated the film-maker's willingness to explore the depth of the Nativity story. If nothing else, the film brought a rather (too) familiar story alive again, even if along the way it plodded about in the desert, added it's own 'interpretation' of the tale, and even utilised the journey of the wise men for some comic down-time.
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on 5 August 2015
Lovely cinematography, an appropriate soundtrack and above all a cast which really works. This film feels a little more authentic than most nativity films, wouldn't be surprised it had been filmed in or close to Israel. We all know that Mary certainly wasn't a white, 26 year old virgin as she appears in lots of other films and art work. Keisha Castle-Hughes played this role perfectly as a teenager, with her olive skin and Israeli accent. Her acting conveyed the sense of a girl wise beyond her years with a large responsibility placed on her, yet equally unsure and uncertain of herself and her coming marriage. Set against a backdrop of poverty and oppression, a sense of hope caries this story forward.

The picture aspect ratio: is 2.35:1 (widescreen) the sound is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.
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