“Mary of Nazareth” is the first film to seriously consider the life of the most important woman who ever lived. The film’s website provides this summary:
“The film vividly captures the essence of Mary’s profound faith and trust in God amidst the great mysteries that she lived with as the Mother of the Messiah, her compassionate humanity and concern for others, and the deep love that she and Jesus shared for one another. This movie underscores her special role in God’s plan for our redemption, her unique relationship with Christ, and the tremendous suffering that she endured in union with his passion and death, as well as her serene joy at his Resurrection.”
Here’s a preview:
A new look at Mary
What the summary doesn’t tell you is that this film, released by Ignatius Press and Carmel Communications, is thoughtful, insightful and imaginative. As so little historical writing exists on the life of Mary, one must take whatever sources are available and inject possibilities in between to flesh out the story. This is good writing. While there is nothing theologically controversial about the film, there are many new approaches to the familiar story.
Mother and Son
Take the scene from the Wedding at Cana: we see Jesus dancing at the wedding. We see a tender exchange between Mary, who is concerned for the bride and groom that the wine is gone, and Jesus, who is not yet ready to begin his mission. Her intercession brings about his first miracle. While a straight reading of the scripture in John 2 suggests possible tension between the two, here we see a loving mother and son exchanging concerned glances and smiles of understanding.
The face says it all
In fact, it is the facial expression that tells the story in this movie. This is where we pick up on the closeness of the relationship between mother and son. It is touching to see the chemistry between the two actors depicting a most unique relationship, and yet one that any mother with sons can relate to (such as this one).
A fleshed-out role
Mary plays a much larger role in Jesus’ ministry in this movie and all the scenarios are quite believable. She is the one who continually reminds the apostles that “He will live, He will rise.” Despite her heart-wrenching suffering, Mary’s faith is rock solid.
One of many interesting twists in this story is the character of Mary Magdalen. Here the writers imagined that Magdalen and Mary were friends in their youth but that Magdalen was tempted away from Nazareth when she is befriended by Herodias, a seductive, almost devil-like woman into a life of promiscuity and deceit, leading to the deaths of Herod’s son and then John the Baptist. It is this latter death that causes Magdalen to flee from the palace and become a prostitute who is eventually saved by Jesus. The scene where she cries over the feet of Jesus and wipes them with her hair is very moving.
Availability of film
While this movie is not available yet on DVD, it is available on Netflix. The website also provides ways for your church or organization to screen the film.
On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, today would be a perfect day to screen “Mary of Nazareth.”
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