The Passion of The Christ was an independent movie, paid for entirely out of Mel Gibson's pocket. The Prince of Egypt was an animated film that emphasized the common ground between Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Last Temptation of Christ was a low-budget art-house flick based on a heretical novel.
You would have to go back at least as far as King David, the mid-1980s box-office flop starring Richard Gere, to find another live-action movie produced by a major Hollywood studio and based directly on the Bible. And you would have to go back even further—to the bathrobe epics of the 1960s, at least—to find a mainstream biblical movie that was as blatantly Christian as The Nativity Story.
The film begins by quoting a prophecy, from the Book of Jeremiah, that is said to be troubling King Herod the Great (Ciarán Hinds). We then see Herod and his son Antipas (Alessandro Giuggioli) as they preside over the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. By this point, Mychael Danna's score has invoked the medieval hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," and scenes like these lay out the messianic hope by reminding us that Israel was indeed a "captive" in need of "ransoming."
The movie then jumps back a year and then some to the beginning of the story, as the angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) appears to the priest Zechariah (Stanley Townsend) to tell him that his wife Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo) will have a son despite being well past the age of childbearing. Actually, Gabriel does not "appear" to Zechariah, as such; in one of the film's several minor deviations from the Bible, Gabriel reveals only his voice to Zechariah—although, in a nifty special effect, the angel's breath does seem to part the smoke that rises from ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
The Nativity Story
This slideshow is only available for subscribers.
Please log in or subscribe to view the slideshow.