• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Nativity News vol.10

    The news for The Nativity Story is starting to flow thick and fast. I made three posts on it last month, and find myself making another one right at the start of October. (In actual fact I'm a bit slow off the mark with this one having been away for a long weekend, most other people seemed to have blogged this on Saturday, for example Peter Chattaway, Jeffrey Overstreet, Mark Goodacre, and Queen Spoo). Anyway, the Theatrical Trailer is now up at the official website. It has certainly whet my appetite still further. Has anyone seen this in a theatre yet?

    By contrast Peter C's not drawing any conclusions, although he is concerned (along with me) about the shot of Mary and Joseph struggling in a river. In a separate post to the one above, Jeffrey Overstreet makes some humorous predictions about how Nativity will be received. Whilst it's already clear that this film will not be as controversial as The Passion (media anticipation is decidedly muted at the moment compared to things two months before Gibson's film arrived), I think he is probably pretty much on the money. The reaction might be less hysterical, but it will certainly be yet another arena where the debate about Christianity and Hollywood gets kicked around once more. I do disagree with one of Jeff's predictions though:
    Whatever most religious press outlets publish, it'll be worth seeing for the performances rather than the script, and because it's a good story that would be hard to screw up. But as far as filmmaking, it's the acting that will stand out.
    The main reason I disagree is that I think that this film, like The Passion will be very strong visually as well. That wasn't enough to make The Passion great, and it won't save a hokey script or bad acting, but I think there is enough in this trailer to see that there will, at the very least, be something worth watching it for (and I still dare to hope a great deal more besides).

    One final thought on the trailer is that Ciarin Hinds's Herod looks like a dead ringer for Frank Thring's Herod in King of Kings.

    The second piece of "Nativity News" is that there is also a third featurette on the official website. Whereas the first was primarily focussing on writer Mike Rich, whilst the second was largely about director Catherine Hardwicke, this one is a number of the crew discussing the production design. So it includes Wyck Godfrey (Producer), Stephano Ortolani (Production Design), Marty Bowen (Producer), as well as Catherine Hardwicke. Again, it's hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it is enough to show us (again) that the production values are high, but that, almost in contradiction to that, it will reflect Jesus's peasant roots. This, again, is encouraging. Far too many Jesus films make Jesus and his family seem like a nice middle class Anglo-American nuclear family. Whilst I don't suppose for a minute that this one will manage to portray Jesus's family with bad teeth, dirt under the fingernails, or grimy malnourished faces, it seems to be far closer than many other films in this regard.

    Whilst the marketing team for The Nativity seems to have learnt from the excellence of the publicity department of The Passion (who you have to admit got results even if you don't like the fact that they did, or the way they did it), I suspect they have their own ideas as well. It seems fair to assume that these featurettes will find their way onto the eventual DVD release (next Christmas?). And talking about marketing leads me to my final pieces of news...

    Queen Spoo has news of a 250-page paperback novelisation of Nativity which will be released shortly. It's written by Nativity screenwriter Mike Rich and Angela Hunt. Additionally, a DVD documentary called "The True Story of the Nativity", will be released on the 17 October 2006. Spoo has posted the blurb for the documentary so I won't duplicate it here.

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    • At 8:58 pm, October 04, 2006, Blogger Mark Goodacre said…

      Thanks for the useful updates, Matt. My wife and kids went to see Open Season on Monday at our local cinema and they said The Nativity Story trailer played before the film -- so it's clearly being marketed at families. And it seems that my kids are keen to see it, which is good news. I won't have to skulk off alone to go and see this one, like with Passion of the Christ!

    • At 8:31 am, October 05, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Yes it'll be interesting to see what certificate they give it when it comes out. Jeffrey Overstreet raises a caution about the Death of the Infants incident, worrying that either it'll be unsuitable for children on the one hand, or that they'll dumb it down on the other. Personally I think there's some middle ground, and I hope that's where this one lands.



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