Friday, December 01, 2006

The Nativity Story

First, the trailer:
I was planning on finishing up a couple assignments and getting to bed early on Friday night (kind of crazy how my Friday Nights have changed over the last couple of years) but a small group of seminarians decided to head over and watch this movie to kick off Advent. I almost didn't go, but I'm really glad I did. I enjoyed it a lot and I think every Christian should see it. It was a bit corny at times, but that didn't really matter that much to me.

I don't really want to take the time to write a review so I'll just share some random comments. I'm not going to worry about spoiling anything since I'm sure you all know the story.

- St. Joseph is awesome. I chose the name Joseph at Confirmation for a couple of reasons. 1)The sacrifices he made to help Bring Jesus (the Eucharist) into the world and 2) His love for Our Lady. This movie did a great job of showing that. I was moved and I remembered why I love St. Joseph. I've always personally kind of considered him a typological foreshadowing of Priests for the above reasons. His best line (which I texted into my phone so I wouldn't forget) was to Anne and Joachim, "I will protect your daughter and her Child with all that I am."

- It was beautiful to see Mary fall in love with Joseph throughout the movie. She didn't want to marry him at first, but as the movie went on you could see that she really did love him. Beautiful.

- One of the three wise men was named Balthasar. I didn't realize it, but according to the always reliable Wikipedia, that is a traditional name for one of them. Still, I couldn't help but think of another wise man named Balthasar...

- There were a couple of Crucifixion imagages that I felt enriched the movie. One of them in particular was when Mary was coming back from Elizabeth's and she kind of gave a look that said she understood what her son was in for.

- Speaking of Elizabeth, The Visitation was one of three Joyful Mysteries in the film. The other two were The Anunciation and (of course) The Nativity. I thought for sure we would see at least one more, Finding Jesus in the Temple, because of a conversation of Mary and Joseph speculating on how they would know when Jesus became a man. But we didn't.

- The very last words of the movie were Beautiful, and all of us were sort of mouthing the words right along with Mary. We say these words every evening of every day at the Seminary. It is a staple of evening prayer... My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked with favor on his lowely servant.... the Magnificat.

- The Music wasn't bad, but some of it was a little off in my opinion. I loved the O Come O Come Emmanuel at the Beginning (it was actually Veni Veni Emanuel.. nice work director), but sort of just chuckled when Carol of the Bells started playing. That sort of stuff wasn't for me, but I could see some people liking it.

So there ya go. Because it is a familiar story for most of us I don't think that a couple of poorly delivered lines and a little bit of hokiness will hurt it. A non-Christian might disagree, but I don't care. Like the Passion of the Christ, this movie is more of a meditation for us Christians rather than entertainment. So go get your Advent started out right and see The Nativity Story.


Jess said...

Sounds like it was good. I know last year we took the teens to watch Narnia during Christmas break, maybe we can watch this one this year.

Peace said...

I am happy for you that you gave yourself the gift of a meaningful Christmas.

I went to see this last night, opening night. As a recently baptized Christian, I will tell you that this was a most welcomed, meaningful and revolutionary movie for me. It centers around the mother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

A superbly crafted and thoughtfully directed movie, it deserves a high rating. It is an unprecedented tribute to a woman who has been relegated to backdrop scenes. Finally, Mary gets to have a movie about her spiritual journey. In my own life, Mary was in the far distant background, giving her fleeting thought if I came across a Nativity scene at Christmas or if I heard the Beatles song, "Let It Be":

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be."

It was made for a certain niche -- the ~200 million or so Americans who consider themselves Christians. Two years ago, I was not in this niche, being "spiritual, but not religious." Long story, short, it was Mary who pointed me to her Son, lead me on my own spiritual journey and caused a revolution in my heart, mind and soul.

Those who take the time to learn about her and her role do not, as I was mislead to believe, worship her. They simply respect and venerate her. Leading folks to her Son, as I learned, is her job. In this movie, her character is doing exactly that again for me and viewers who are called to see it.

Ever since she lead me home, Christmas has taken on such meaning as I never imagined. This year, I've started the season -- called the Advent season -- with a faith-based movie that allowed me to slide right into it in a beautiful, gentle and do I dare say, beatific way.

This movie experience is an exquisite gift for the heart and soul. Moreover, it is a feast for the eyes. I went past the inanimate objects of Nativity displays to a visually rich and "fleshed" out Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, shepherds, Magi and stable animals. The director of the movie, Catherine Hardwick, referred to a line in the script: "...the greatest of kings born in the most humble of places."

"Power," she says, "is not a physical power. It's not riches, it's not money, it's not control of governments and nations. It's a deeper power, spirituality."

At the end of the movie, the audience burst out in spontaneous applause. For each of us, Christmas is not at all about holiday parties, frenzied shopping and the trappings and physical accouterments. Now, THAT'S revolutionary.

When this comes out in DVD, it will be a part of our yearly Christmas tradition, reminding us what it is all about.

"Merry Christ-mas!"

Val said...

Sweet, taking the teens to see it on Friday. The trailer looks awesome, I can't wait.