I recently had the opportunity to watch the film Mary of Nazareth from Ignatius Press. The movie takes you on a journey that spans from Mary’s early childhood to the Resurrection of Jesus. The sources used as reference include Scripture but also delve outside the Gospels to include stories from apocryphal texts many will be familiar with . Overall I was quite impressed. The movie actually gave me pause to consider a few things.
We know the subject matter of this film is Mary, the Mother of God. I feel we sometimes loose fact of one thing this film does exceptionally well. Mary was a flesh and blood human being like us. Granted, we know she was free from the stain of sin however she had struggles in her life to face just as we do. As I write this review some scenes come to mind. Mary’s return to Nazareth after being away caring for Elizabeth was particularly well portrayed. Mary, unwed but betrothed to Joseph was now clearly pregnant. Jewish law was on clear display as towns people looked down upon her. Joseph’s reaction of distrust, betrayal and anger was likely pretty close to how a Jewish man of that time would have felt. In the end, the angel appears to Joseph and the truth is revealed to him. I was impressed not only in this scene with Luca Marinelli’s portrayal of Joseph but through the whole film. He and the script did a wonderful job representing Joseph as a strong father and husband that would do anything for Mary and Jesus.
The nativity and the scenes before and directly after were amazing. You actually feel the tension as Joseph attempts to find somewhere for Mary to give birth. The most moving scene surrounding the birth of Christ was the arrival of the shepherds. Shepherds in those days were looked upon as dirty and filthy as they spent their days in the fields with the livestock. Those that came to adore the newly born Messiah were just that, very rough looking and in fact they even mentioned that to Joseph upon his reaction of apprehension. Eventually Mary hands the baby Jesus over to the lead shepherd who in turn passes him to the next and the next and so on. A moving scene as they poor shepherds each admire their newborn Savior.
As Jesus entered adulthood the bond between Mary and Jesus becomes even more evident. From the wedding feast of Cana when Jesus obeyed his mother’s request to turn the water into to wine, to the terrible step by step journey to Golgotha and the crucifixion Mary is never too far away from her son. Throughout all these events actress Alissa Jung offers a believable portrayal of Mary. One that brings Mary from the pages of the Gospel to a media that brings her to life in a film the whole family should watch and all will enjoy.
I received a copy of the DVD for this review from Carmel Communications, marketing firm for Ignatius Press.