The Nativity Story (2007) was never a box-office smash, but it beautifully portrays the events leading up to the birth of Christ. Perfect for Advent season.
Its "G" rating is dubious because the movie opens up with Herod's soldiers killing babies (not graphic, but still frightening). Later scenes show both Mary and Elizabeth in childbirth, and there are crucified bodies displayed on the road to Jerusalem. But it would be good for ages 12 and up.
No big names light up the screen, unless you count Ciaran Hinds as Herod. The acting is good. The script is great. The sets and costumes are fantastic.
The casting is spot on. The shepherds look weather-beaten. Joseph and Mary are completely believable in their parts. There is an authentic feel to the film because Mary is actually a very young girl, and the characters all look Jewish (unlike many other Bible-based films).
The movie follows the biblical narrative pretty closely; the few additions are not heavy-handed. The writer/director took the most liberty with the three wise men, using them for comic relief. I know that sounds awful, but we LOVE the wise men and chortle through their scenes.
What I appreciate most about the movie is how the relationship between Mary and Joseph is portrayed. It shows how their affection for each other grows while they are also learning to trust God with the gift of His son. It shows Joseph's very human reaction to the news that Mary is pregnant. It reveals the possible insecurities they may have felt as future parents of the Messiah. In one scene Joseph wonders, "Will I even be able to teach him anything?" Their humanness juxtaposed with their faith is very touching.
The Nativity Story has all the beauty and subtlety that was lacking in The Bible mini series. I have a hunch the writer of this movie, Mike Rich, might be a Christian. (He did a wonderful job intertwining scripture into the movie Secretariat.) This is not your typical hokey Christian movie. Highly, highly recommended.