New Line Cinema’s The Nativity Story to Reach Worldwide Audience
CINCINNATI—Hollywood is getting the real Christmas spirit: New Line Cinema’s The
Nativity Story—to be released on December 1 to 7,000 screens worldwide—tells the
story of the year before Jesus’ birth until the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem,
as well as the flight of the Mary and Joseph into Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. The film
hopes to allow the audience to experience the characters’ emotions and the difficulties they
faced in the context of their time and place.
The production of the movie
and the message of hope that it conveys are the basis for the December cover article in St. Anthony
Messenger, entitled “The Nativity Story: The Making of the Movie.” Rose Pacatte,
F.S.P., author of the magazine’s “Eye on Entertainment” column, journeyed to Matera,
Italy, with other Christian journalists to witness some of the filming as well as the movie’s
potential to inspire faith. She has since seen a version of the entire movie, which will premiere
at the Vatican. After November 20, the article will be posted at: AmericanCatholic.org.
The focus of The Nativity Story is on the spiritual and physical journeys of Mary of Nazareth,
the mother of Jesus; Joseph, the foster-father; Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, and Anna and Joachim,
Mary’s parents. These journeys are brought to the screen in ways that provide insight into
God’s intervention in their lives. Screenwriter Mike Rich, who wrote Finding Forrester, The
Rookie and Radio, found inspiration aplenty when first tackling the story.
“I love stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things; this is my consistent theme
as a cinematic storyteller. And I had always wanted to write The Nativity Story, which is
about ordinary people who did extraordinary things,” he says. Director Catherine Hardwicke
and her crew traveled to Israel to research what life was like for people who lived in the first
century. They then traveled to southern Italy to re-create that environment.
Authenticity wasn’t the only concern for the director. Conveying a truth to the characters
was also vital. “God challenges our faith every day, just like he challenged the people in
this film. You can feel the risk Mary is taking when she says, ‘There is a will for this child
greater than my fear of what they may do.’ I don’t want to make a sugar-coated version
of the Nativity story,” Hardwicke says.
Assembling a talented cast was another challenge. Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was Oscar-nominated
for her role in Whale Rider, was slightly daunted by the task of playing such a beloved, and
world-renowned, person. “Mary...you never think that she was 13 and had a child. She was just
a girl, playing with her friends, then suddenly she has this huge responsibility...to become the
mother of the world,” she says.
The Nativity Story is
not event-based. Rather, it is the Infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke blended, with the timeline
compressed. It is, essentially, a story about journeys: those of Gabriel from heaven to Nazareth;
Mary to see her cousin Elizabeth; Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem; the shepherds to the
grotto; the Magi to the stable; the Holy Family from Bethlehem to Egypt.
Hardwicke hopes that the audience takes a journey as well, one of faith. “I hope that people
will get excited about this film, and that it will help unite people from around the world; I hope
people will be drawn to faith.”
granted to reprint this release.