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A believable telling of the life of Mary, the chosen by God, mother of Christ. The story follows Mary before conception, at the revealing of the impending birth by the angel Gabrie, and finally the birth of the Savior. Written by
1999's low-budget "Mary, Mother of Jesus" is, to my mind, the most moving film adaption of the Christmas story, particularly the first third of the 90-minute film.
The first 30-minutes or so comprise the Christmas story: Mary's encounter with an angel, her miraculous pregnancy, Joseph's initial decision to end their betrothal and changing his mind after a God-given dream, Jesus' birth in a Bethlehem stable, the 3 wise men and their gifts, Herod's murderous decision to kill all infants in the area, Joseph & Mary's escape, etc.
Even though this is a low-budget picture, the filmmakers successfully create a powerfully affecting ambiance of reverence and beauty. It's hard to explain, but the film will move you to tears multiple times in the first half hour alone!
At the halfway point we meet Jesus at 30-years of age, played by Christian Bale (renown for the modern Batman pictures). To be expected, the rest of the movie details Jesus' baptism, anointing, ministry, capture, torture, death and resurrection. Since there are only about 45-minutes to show all this there's not a lot of detail and the film loses the potent appeal of the first half, but it's not bad at all, it's just that the story passes by so briskly, which isn't a bad thing if you're in the mood for a fast-moving account of the story.
Other films may have captured Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection better, like "The Passion of the Christ", but no other film captures the Christmas story as well as "Mary, Mother of Jesus," despite the low-budget. This includes the more recent "The Nativity Story," which has far better production values.
This can be attributed to a handful of factors: Good actors in the main roles, e.g. Pernilla August as Mary and David Threlfall as Joseph, both outstanding; a quality score; and convincing sets, costumes and locations. (As far as locations go, IMDb states that the film was shot in Budapest, Hungary, but there are a lot of desert-like locations that clearly indicate that it was shot somewhere in the general area of Israel and the Middle East, so I don't know what to tell ya).
FINAL WORD: "Mary, the Mother of Jesus" is worth checking out for its depiction of the Christmas story alone. The last hour, involving Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection, is solid but it lacks the detail of other cinematic accounts. Regardless, the first half hour or so is so moving it's worth the price of admission.
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