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November 15, 2006     595 Words

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:

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. “ 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 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.”


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