Most Inventive Use of Carol of the Bells Ever

Grandma took the kids overnight Saturday, so Mr. Wheat & I found time for an adult activity couples with young children enjoy much less often than they'd like. We went to a movie. Had dinner out beforehand, dawdled in conversation, missed the earlier show and went to the later one --freely, without worrying about getting the babysitter home on time. (In general my curfew as a mum is much earlier than any my parents imposed on me as a teen.)

I confess I wanted to see the new Bond flick, but we went to The Nativity Story instead. It's very nicely done, though marred by the insufficiencies of the teen actress who plays Mary. She looks the part (beautiful and swarthy), but there's nothing behind the eyes. Basically, she's Protestant Mary --the passive cypher who goes along with whatever happens to her-- rather than Catholic Mary --the woman conceived without sin who loves God with her whole heart and whose "yes" to an incredible request gets the whole salvation ball rolling.

I also quibble with the decision to squish the Epiphany and Herod's slaughter of innocents into the same night as the Nativity (skipping the Presentation and leaving out Anna & Simeon) --and for all the effort at historical accuracy, the director and screenwriter clearly never consulted a map of Israel. The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem goes --and always has gone-- straight down the Jerusalem road, which wouldn't have them camping on the shores of Lake Galilee.

Nevertheless, I don't hesitate to recommend it. An absolutely fabulous portrayal of Joseph --particularly the scenes in which he confronts Mary after learning she's pregnant and the dream sequence telling him not to be afraid to marry her. Every scene concerning Zecharias and Elizabeth is delightful-- you'll love the moment when Z. gets his voice back and the birth of John being accompanied by midwife ululation. And Ciaran Hinds as Herod is magnificent in his malignance without overdoing it. There's a scene where Herod makes an improvement to the building of Masada that gives him his due --an evil, oppressive tyrant, he too had talent and an eye for greatness. It's enjoyable just to have a sense of what life was like in the time of the Gospels.

Note to parents: Crucifixions, the slaughter of innocents, general Roman soldier badness & labor pains appear in this flick. Nothing so explicit I'd keep my kids away, but it definitely earns its PG and if you're the sort who shields your little kids from violence... well, don't say you haven't been warned.

Oh, and I also loved the familiar carols woven subtly into the soundtrack. Hence the post title.