The Nativity Story begins with an atmosphere of hollow characters that are reminiscent of silent film actors or like a tabloid, but over time it redeems itself with a strong effective King Herod and a trio of wise men who bring both humor and determination as they follow the bright star which has led them to the birth place of Christ.
Early on Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is portrayed as somewhat of a feminist who does not want to be assigned a husband by her parents, but when Elizabeth (Shoehreh Aghdashloo) gives birth at a late age and Mary is visited by an angel who pronounces her with child from the Holy Spirit, she accepts her faith.
Elizabeth's birth scene is harsh to watch, but other scenes which could have been violent are muted or occur off camera. The substance of the film occurs on the trip to Bethlehem by Joseph and Mary. As they discuss the future birth of Jesus, Joseph wonders out loud "will I be able to teach him anything?" He is a father who puts his family above everything.
Neutral colors fill the screen and are very appropriate for the mostly desert scenes; they are a far cry from the flashy brilliant color spectaculars of the fifties, but appear more real.
These images of The Nativity may be an attempt to capture some of the same rewards which The Passion of Christ enjoyed at the box-office, at the same time the story brings us a film about the origin of Christmas which is enjoyable and uplifting at the season it reflects.