Saturday, 1 January 2011

BBC - "The Nativity"

Good grief! Is it really that long since I committed anything to this blogging enterprise? Suppose it must be ... I have certainly read quite a few bits of quite a few other blogs over the months, but obviously last year I wasn't feeling so creative myself.

Was inspired to add things here while researching what others have written about the BBC mini series "The Nativity" which I hugely appreciated. Broadcast on BBC2 at 7pm, four nights running in the week leading up to the festivities, this was a fascinating and fresh re-telling of the gospel narratives. The familiar characters were fleshed out considerably in a way which does little damage to the NT accounts and instead provides us with a well rounded and at times stunning and moving adaptation. Drawing on both scripture and tradition, the writer (Tony Jordan - East Enders, Life on Mars) and all the cast do a fine job.

Highlights for me were the ordinariness of Gabriel's visit to Mary, the gradual journey to faith of Joseph and the addition of a believable back story for Thomas, imagined as one of the shepherds. No co-incidence with his name - I could imagine him thirty years later as an ageing disciple, still struggling with his faith.

There was much more of interest in each episode, but I was also intrigued by the addition of a midwife character recruited by Joseph after a desperate struggle with the indifferent crowds. Was there a reference to Jesus’ future associations with the marginalised of his society? Was the character intended to resemble a older prostitute or “madame”? Her costume, jewellery and world weary manner all appeared to contribute to this possibility. It seems to me that the rejection of the “adulterous” Mary by Joseph’s Bethlehem family, itself a helpful plot addition, could plausibly result in such a person being the only passer by willing to help out at the birth - other bloggers agree.

I look forward to the DVD in order to be able to look again at the wealth of detail which did so much more than just pad out the story.

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