• 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


    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Review Round-up for The Nativity

    The fourth and final part of the BBC's Nativity aired earlier this evening , so I thought this would be as good as time as any to link to a few reviews. I'll start with my own review at rejesus.co.uk. It's shorter and more concise than my review for this blog and as I didn't have to leave out too much detail then it seems to have benefited form being re-edited.

    Generally the series seems to have been something of a hit. The broadsheets (ignoring the pay-walling Times for obvious reasons) all praised it. The Independent praised Jordan's script. "He has done a proper stand-up job on The Nativity, pulling off the considerable trick of making the miraculous sound credible". The Telegraph is also in favour particularly the "impressive performances as Mary and Joseph by Tatiana Maslany and Andrew Buchan, who wear the haunted but determined looks of humble people suddenly endowed with terrifying responsibility." Their editorial also praises the production and they have a few photos from it in their Nativity Picture Gallery. The Guardian was similarly positive:
    That's what is nice about this new telling of an old story: it will resonate, and it's relevant. It's very human, too, because that's what it's about, the characters and what happens to them and between them, rather than the message. In short, it's not preachy, and that's a relief.
    The paper also had a story about an objection to the programme by Rabbi Jonathan Romain. The BBC denied Romain's claim that the portrayal of Nazareth's synagogue leader was anti-Semitic citing his overall role in the story. And it's not just Romain who's objecting. According to the Daily Express, the media's go-to Christian-nutter-spokesman Stephen Green of Christian Voice is criticising the programme for using its "imagination". Whatever next! To give Green his due, he also raises a number of other objections, all of which are equally ridiculous.

    Back in the real world. Doug Chaplin has been reviewing each episode straight after broadcast (see 1, 2, 3, 4). I'm really glad Doug has done this, not only because it's far more in-depth than my own reviews, but also because going through episode by episode results in a very difference approach and discussion. Overall Doug is positive about the drama but not about the history.

    It's also got good marks on the IMDb: 8.6 at present. I think that's a little high personally, but I'm kind of pleased to see it doing well. It also did well in terms of ratings. According to digitalspy.co.uk the first episode was watched by "an impressive 5.21m" placing it second for the night behind only David Jason's Come Rain Come Shine's 5.78 million. This is slightly higher than the audience for 2008's The Passion which peaked at 4.9 million viewers. The Nativity has held on fairly well too. Episode 2 recorded 4.8 million.

    If you've not yet had a chance to watch it, all four episodes are available from the BBC's iPlayer for another week. I'm fairly sure that this will be UK users only.

    You can read my previous posts on this production here. I've had a few comments on the assumed inaccuracy of the magi and the shepherds arriving at roughly the same time. If I get time I may devote a post to this question, but for now allow me to point towards a sermon by Ben Witherington III and Mark Goodacre's podcast, both of which (indirectly) explain why this is at least a possibility.



    • At 10:35 am, December 24, 2010, Blogger Reymos said…

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about BBC's The Nativity. One of the best modern productions about Jesus. Overall, the production provided us a closer look of the relationship between Joseph and Mary; and Mary's struggles to convince Joseph of her faithfulness. Merry Christmas!

    • At 10:58 am, December 25, 2010, Anonymous Bible Island said…

      Hey there! The Nativity looks good. I''d watch it.

    • At 5:14 pm, January 04, 2011, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for your comments. I'm hoping that Tony Jordan might have a crack at a bit more of the Bible as well.


    • At 7:14 pm, January 09, 2011, Blogger Mark Goodacre said…

      Thanks for a great post, Matt; and thanks too for the plug (saw this after a comment to a later post).


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