Nativity Story to Hit the Holiday Big Screen

Hollywood's loading up with a more pure Christmas spirit this year at the big screen. And a drama film capturing the birth of Christ, or what Time Magazine had called the Prequel to "The Passion of the Christ," is in the lineup of holiday films.

In one month, "The Nativity Story," a New Line Cinema film, will make a nationwide release and filmmakers have committed to ensuring the authenticity of the Nativity story and the look. The upcoming film is the first major theatrical release about a biblical story from a Hollywood studio since the 1950s and part of the half-dozen movies bringing Christmas to the theaters.

"It is kind of a contrast to the usually funny holiday fare and the other more violent movies you get around the holidays," said "Nativity Story" director Catherine Hardwicke, according to the Associated Press. "Maybe it'll be an antidote to that. It's not a cynical approach. It's really quite pure in a way.

"It does eventually seem to take you to a spiritual place, a more sacred place by the end of the movie."

The film chronicles the journey of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus Christ with filming done in Matera, Italy - where "The Passion of the Christ" was filmed - and Morocco.

The filmmakers got the authentic look of Jerusalem and also the script with the help of historians and theologians.

"We got the script into the hands of as many historians and theologians as possible," said screenwriter Mike Rich on the movie website. "They have all helped elevate the authentic feel of this film, not only visually, but from a standpoint of culture and tradition."

A Christianity Today reporter on the movie set confirmed the authenticity.

"Both sets (Bethlehem and Nazareth) transported us back 2,000 years; it seemed as if we were visiting the real deal," they reported.

"The Nativity Story" stars Oscar nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes, 16, as the Virgin Mary and Oscar Isaac as Joseph.

"This story means so much to people all over the world," said Hardwicke. "I hope audiences can relate to the film on a personal level and find some inspiration to get through their own challenges and difficulties."