There's interest building about this film, The Nativity Story, a retelling of, well...that's obviousl
It's directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the well-regarded, if controversial and brutal Thirteen (brutal for its honesty I understand. I've not seen it) and it stars Keisha Castle-Hughes, the marvelous young star of Whale Rider, as Mary. The first link above has marvelous trailers and other information, and today, Christianity Today runs an interview with screenplay author Mike Rich.
This film may not have the flash points of The Passion of The Christ, but whenever there's a new movie with Christian themes, there's often controversy. What are your concerns?
Rich: I think there may be some who take exception with a very human telling of the story. And anytime you're dealing with this particular subject matter, there is a responsibility to get the cultures and traditions spot on. We've done our best to do that, and I think the film is going to stand up in that regard.
I think some purists will perhaps raise an eyebrow at the fact that we blended the two Gospel narratives, with the shepherds [from Luke] and the Magi [from Matthew]. Yes, we do show that quintessential Nativity scene at the end, with the shepherds and the Magi there together; purists are likely going to take exception with that. But if we had made a film that would have been strictly respectful to Matthew, people would wonder where the shepherds were. If we made a film that was strictly respectful of Luke, people would wonder where the Magi were. So, the film is called The Nativity Story, and that's what we're focusing in on—that quintessential moment that millions of individuals still put out on their fireplace mantels in December.
Do you see this movie attracting an audience beyond Christians?
Rich: I do. Even for non-believers, this is a compelling story. We have sent the script out to those way outside of Christian evangelicals. We've shown it to Jewish scholars, who are appreciative of the fact that we were respectful of their traditions and culture.
I'm often asked what I hope to get out of this, what we're hoping to accomplish. We live in a time where the month of December goes by in a heartbeat because of the hectic nature of the season. There's very little time for families to talk about this story. If this movie can serve as a two-hour window in that season to get families talking about this remarkable, amazing story of faith, then that will be a great thing.
Do you see the movie as "evangelistic"?
Rich: Not particularly. It could plant a seed in that direction. We see Jesus for all of five minutes onscreen—and he's not exactly delivering the Sermon on the Mount. But if after seeing this movie someone opens up the Gospel of Luke, then you never know.
There's a question in there about not upsetting Catholics, and the hopes of getting faiths to dialogue, and it's all very vague - I have no idea if that relates to "ever virgin" or not.
It's sort of odd, too, this concern with not wanting to puzzle people too much if the film doesn't match their Christmas manger sets. Most Catholics I know wait to put the Magi out until Epiphany anyway, and if that doesn't quite complete the scholarly view that the visitation of the Magi happened up to two years after Jesus' birth, that's okay, because at least it acknowledges a sense of what Scripture seems to be saying about the event - that it was well after the birth.