By Tom Quiner

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zPAq45g2nk]
Beautiful, simply beautiful.
I loved “Mary of Nazareth” because it told the story of Jesus through the eyes of His Mother, Mary, whom we Catholics referred to as the “Blessed Mother.”
The trailer on YouTube characterizes this film this way:

Mary of Nazareth is an epic new motion picture on the life of Mary, mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus.”

Catholics view Mary in a different light than our Protestant brothers and sisters, but all can appreciate the sensitive depiction of this unique Mother/Son relationship. There is only one like it in the annals of history, to say the least.
This film is in the same league with other compelling Jesus movies, including “Jesus of Nazareth,” “The Gospel of John,” and “The Passion of the Christ” through the sheer artistry of the direction.  The Italian film director, Giacomo Campiotti knows how to tell a story and get the most out of his cast, especially Allisa Jung as the delightful Mary.
This movie covers some fresh ground, at least for me, with its dramatic opening scene where the young Mary’s life is on the line.
And when Mary conceives Jesus through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, the director presents the dire consequences this presents to the young girl. The threat of stoning at worse, and ostracism at best, were brought to life. Your heart will bleed as you see what she has to go through.
The manger scene may the best I’ve seen yet. There is a scene where Mary looks at the Baby Jesus and He smiles back at her with the most beautiful, joyful smile you have ever seen in a movie. I don’t know how the director pulled it off, but it was worth the price of admission.
I loved the way the director handled the two wedding scenes in the film: Mary and Joseph’s wedding, and later in the film, the famous wedding feast at Cana when Jesus turns water into wine. The food, the music, the staging, the scenery, everything made these scenes seem so real and engaging. You’d like to be there. I know I would.
In the Catholic faith, Mary is all about Jesus. She leads us even closer to her Son. This film shows that. The relationship between Mary and the grown Jesus, portrayed by Andreas Pietschmann, totally works and is the foundation of the movie.
A few last thoughts. Paz Vega made a particularly fetching Mary Magdalene. In some movies, such as “The Gospel of John,” she plays a bit part. Not in this telling of the life of Jesus and Mary. Magdalene got the full treatment. Her gradual transition from immorality into purity, from darkness into light, from despair into hope was thrilling to behold.
When Jesus carries His cross and falls, you see a little of his blood spilled on the ground. His mother gets on her knees and carefully soaks it up with a cloth. Every drop of His Blood is precious.
Finally, Guy Farley’s musical score was dramatic and ethereal.
For me, Mary of Nazareth worked on every level. Watch it tonight on Netflix, where it is titled “Maria Di Nazaret.”
 

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  1. karensiena on April 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I have to differ with Tom on this review. I may have reacted differently if I had seen the same version Tom saw. I watched it on Netflix with a different edit and I did not like this film at all.
    The version I saw spent too much time on Mary Magdalene’s story and it not only seemed completely contrived but even worse, it distracted from the story of Mary.
    But even without that, there wasn’t much in this film that did work for me. Mary didn’t seem real and the portrayal of her made it seem like she was on prozac. In the scene where the angel appeared to her, her reaction was not right. Instead of that simpering smile, I imagine Mary to be filled almost with a holy fear, with more of a sense of wonder and awe.
    I did not like the way they had Joseph getting rough with her when he found out she was pregnant and the way her father yelled at her. I don’t know about her father, but Joseph would not have done that.
    The movie lacked heft, grit, and any feeling of realism.
    It was all too pretty, the actors teeth were too white, the costumes were too frothy and clean, the acting seemed shallow.
    And I have a deep love for Mary and I love good religious movies.
    Not that I have strong opinions or anything.

  2. […] It seemed like the answer was ‘yes’ last Saturday at the Fleur Cinema at the end of the 2 1/2 hour epic. I talked with some friends, and they were positive, for the most part, with minor criticisms pointed out here and there. [Read my review here.] […]

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