MOVIE REVIEW: Mary of Nazareth

Though we have previously heard about Mary’s life through Sacred Scripture with a primary emphasis on Christ’s life, the movie takes us through those familiar stories and puts a fresh and different perspective on her life. It takes her from Mother of God, someone whom we venerate, and places her in front of us in everyday, real situations that we often face ourselves. Even though the movie is about Mary’s perspective, it rightly maintains Christ as the intricately woven influence in her life. This movie will resonate for those with or without a Marian devotion, and even those who are curious to know who Mary was simply from a historical standpoint.

From the Mary of Nazareth website”This full-length feature film about the life of Our Lady, shot in English in High Definition, was filmed in Europe in very authentic locales with outstanding cinematography, a strong cast, and a majestic music score. Actress Alissa Jung gives a beautiful, compelling and inspired portrayal of Mary.”

Mary&AnnIn the beginning. We are introduced to Mary and her family, mother Ann and father Joachim. We immediately see how special she is and how God protects her even in the face of eminent danger. We feel the emotions that her parents must have felt as she was dedicated to the temple in service to the Lord. Throughout her life, there is constant element of childlike faith. Preserved by God Himself, we see Mary’s faith in action, always succumbing to His will before her own.

Compare and contrast. Through the movie, we see three women’s lives and the effects of their choices – Mary of Nazareth, Mary Magdalen, and Herodias, daughter of Herod. We see both Mary’s as friends in the beginning, but soon see the vast difference of journeys each takes. Our Lady, whose life is in complete service to God, and Magdalen, who seeks validation and self-worth through domination and lust. After a lifetime of debauchery, she shows up at Christ’s feet like a war-torn soldier with nothing left to give. She uses what little energy she has left to completely surrender to Him after He challenges those without sin to cast the first stone in the face of what is certain death. Herodias, on the other hand, remains a cold and vindictive person whose heart is hardened by the very mention of Jesus. Her reaction to Christ parallels the hardness of heart we see in the pharaoh of Moses’ time. We see Magdalen reclaim her femininity by wearing modest apparel – we see this change in her demeanor and appearance go from a haggard, chewed up and spit out by society look to someone who suddenly has the glow of Christ and embodies the forgiveness we all crave as sinners.

public shameShame and humiliation. Throughout Jesus’ life, we know that He accepted a life of worldly humiliation for the sake of paying our debt. We also know that He could have chosen not to feel the pain of the Cross, but freely chose to, out of love for us. Likewise, we see the shame and humiliation that Mary must have felt throughout her life. Although she always placed her trust and care in God’s loving hands, the reality of her situation was, indeed, difficult – carrying a child out of wedlock, enduring the stares, silent and not-so silent gossip whenever she was around, the embarrassment the families faced on their wedding day, even when it seems as though Jesus publicly repudiates Mary. Each stage of her life, we see how Mary responds to the humiliation with perfect and total trust in God’s plan.

ShepherdsHumor and humanity. This movie delivers when it comes to humor. When Mary arrives to visit her cousin Elizabeth, Zechariah opens the door, but fails to answer Mary’s greeting because of his own misgivings from months prior. We also see Joseph do what every father does when their child has come into the world – count toes! When the shepherds arrive to adore the Messiah, Mary is all too quick to hand over the Anointed One, but Joseph has a look of near panic on his face. It’s easy to imagine what he must have been feeling as the one chosen by God to be a protector of both Mary and Jesus!

Location, cast, and music. The full-length film was shot in English in HD quality in Europe. The location and cast both deliver and add to the authenticity of the story. The music score, written by Guy Farley, brings an element of beauty that builds upon the emotion from the scenery and acting.

Rating. PG – based on the official website question section – due to the scenes from Herod’s court and Magdalen’s overt sexuality, viewer discretion is advised.

No matter if you have a devotion to Mary or not, let us all adopt her fiat in response to God’s call for our lives. This is a movie that will bring you closer to understanding the bond between Mary and her Son, our Lord and Savior.

If you haven’t yet, please read my promotional piece on this movie.

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