the Nativity Story
A Righteous Romance
By Lori D'Augostine
CBN.com Associate Producer
CBN.com Of all the Hollywood romance movies out today, few have attempted to portray individuals who are truly in love according to Biblical standards. Most "chick flicks" reflect an MTV generation, overloaded by images of sex and promiscuity, offering hardly any role models for young people to emulate.
Really, when is the last time you've seen a movie about a young man with honorable intentions in his pursuit of a wife, or a lady who responds with dignity and respect? Can teenagers even relate, not to mention benefit from classic love stories anymore?
While Biblical movies are increasingly gaining mass audience appeal, there is a market left untapped. What does the Bible have to say to teenagers about love? The Nativity Story movie attempts to answer some of these aged questions.
We all know the story. Jesus came into this world through a couple, of whom in our modern terms might seem an unlikely pair. Joseph, the carpenter and Mary, a teenager still living under her parent's roof barely had one conversation before they were betrothed to be married. Sure, it would seem logical that the parents of God-incarnate must have loved each other, but how and when did this take place? Can teenagers even know true love?
Screenwriter, Mike Rich pondered these questions when he attempted to pen a realistic, 90-minute love story, without taking from the most central message of the movie, the love between God and man.
"These characters evolved for me. All we know of Joseph is that he was righteous. I deducted that he'd always make the right decision, no matter how difficult," said Rich.
According to 26-year-old Hollywood newcomer, Oscar Isaac, who played the role of Joseph, finding the motivation to always do the right thing, was at times very difficult. Isaac determined early on that he "loved" Mary, played by 16-year-old Oscar nominee (Whale Rider), Keisha Castle-Huges, but wondered what this practically looked like the moment he was in Mary's house with her parents, first learning of her pregnancy.
Isaac admits, "I couldn't figure out how to do this scene. As Joseph, I wanted to leave."
He became so concerned by his unmotivated delivery of lines, that Isaac called one of his former professors at Julliard from the set in Italy.
"He told me that I need to find a reason to stay. That's when I realized -- The only way I could stay is because I had to be completely in love with her. That is the kind of love that could only come from God."
That was the love he exuded. We see in Joseph, a fierce loyalty protruding from beneath his stern, Middle Eastern brow. Even when Mary's parents couldn't believe her to have conceived a child by the Holy Spirit, Joseph was unwavering. He says to Mary, "I believe you are a woman of great virtue."
Mary's response to Joseph: "You have shown great mercy."
In this moment, Mary's eyes are opened. She is no longer the begrudged child, brooding over a life that she has not wanted. She discovers courage and declares to Joseph, "there is a will for this child greater that my fear of what they'll do."
Joseph's decision to stand beside Mary would be very unpopular according to today's standards. Instead of public humiliation, couples throw stones in other ways, oftentimes through their lawyers in divorce court. Even though it would seem laughable why Joseph would still take Mary to be his wife, Producer, Marty Gowen believes that there is a message for today's cutlure that is real and revolutionary.
"I love the love that these two characters have, and it really comes across. If they had broken into, 'I love you Joseph,' or 'I love you Mary,' it would have been phoney. To parcel out the affection and have that relationship grow without using Hollywood convention is what I'm really poud of," he said.
The Nativity Story is not just about the couple's 100-mile arduous trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There is another journey taking place.
According to Rich, "A righteous man will take her every step of the way. He promised Mary's mother and father he would protect her and the child with everything he is."
Through her husband's constancy, Mary is made mature. The actress who played Mary's cousin, Elizabeth relished the way Joseph wooed Mary.
"He loved her to death. His pure love for her was transforming for Mary. She was not the little girl that came over to my house in the beginning of the movie by the end of the movie," said Shohreh Aghdashloo.
By the time Joseph and Mary are cradling the baby Jesus, it seems unquestionable why this couple would be chosen by God for this role. They resemble a couple who have been married for 50 years.
That is what dodging the onslaughts of the accusing tongues of the Nazareth villagers and deadly plots from Herod will do for you. That is what remaining sexually pure will do for you. That is what the preparing for the birth of Christ did for this couple. They grew up in their love very quickly.
Comments? Email me.
For more movie information, go to CBN.com's Special Nativity page.
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