Mary of Nazareth 1

Movie Review

German actress Alissa Jung brilliantly portrays Mary of Nazareth

German actress Alissa Jung brilliantly portrays Mary of Nazareth

I’m glad I had the chance to attend the second sold-out showing of Mary of Nazareth, hosted by St Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church at AMC Theaters in Cumming, Georgia, yesterday. This one definitely had me pondering the life of Mary, and left me saying to myself, I need to see it again. Hopefully, the parish will host a third showing, because I think everyone with devotion to Mary in their heart needs to see it.

I can’t imagine how daunting it must be to assume the lead role in a feature film portraying the Mother of God. The young German actress Alissa Jung could not have convinced me more that she was a perfect fit for that role. At one point I found myself astonished by something I already knew but didn’t realize how little I actually understood it — My gosh! Mary was Jesus’ mother!

The significance of that thought just left me stunned. There’s no way I can articulate that thought or idea of Mary’s motherhood better than Alissa Jung shows it to us on the big screen.

At this point, I would say Spoiler Alert, but that’s not exactly fitting, since most people reading this already know the story and how it ends. The movie does faithfully represent the highlights of the Blessed Virgin’s life as we read them in the Bible. Writer Francesco Arlanch and director Giacomo Campiotti still offer a lot to the imagination in this film in parts where the Gospel leaves them an opening. I appreciated the way they chose to ponder how events might have happened. Knowing what I know about the Gospel times, however, I had to say, it probably did not happen that way, but it’s still and interesting interpretation.

For instance, Mary Magdalene starts out as a member of Herod’s household. After falling into prostitution, she becomes the woman caught in adultery, whom Jesus saved from stoning. She is also the woman who anoints the the Lord’s feet in Simon the Pharisees’ house. From that point on, her role is very similar to the one Monica Bellucci portrayed in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

Of course, Jesus (portrayed by Andreas Pietschmann) has a prominent part in the film, and at one point, he becomes the focus. That is, I believe, the way Mary would have it. “To Jesus through Mary” could be the way we ought to view Mary of Nazareth. It really is meant to be an interpretation of Christ’s life, through the eyes of his mother, Mary. At times we are allowed to see Mary through Jesus’ eyes, as well. From this perspective, we can perhaps glimpse something of how he sees us, and wants us to see ourselves, in our trials and struggles in life, also.

I cannot end without saying a word on Joseph. In this movie, he talks too much.

That was a joke! In the Gospels, Joseph never says a word. So I would sympathize with Luca Marinelli, who portrayed Joseph in the film, however I end up thanking him. He delivers a tough supporting role fabulously, and again, very convincingly.

In the spirit of Saint Joseph, I’ll say no more and let you see and judge for yourself. If you have the opportunity to see Mary of Nazareth at the theater, don’t miss it! If not, I urge you to see it at home when it comes out on DVD. Unfortunately, we don’t have news on exactly when that will be yet, but I hope it happens soon!

For more information about this film, visit maryfilm.com.

One comment

  1. I should add, not as a disclaimer but an advisory, this film has some graphic content. Sensitive viewers might have to cover their eyes briefly during a couple of scenes. The portrayal of Herod’s slaughter of the infants is violent. Fortunately, the film does not present images of murdered babies in this scene.

    Christ’s scourging at the pillar and crucifixion are graphic, but nowhere close to the gory detail in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. I thought these scenes were respectfully appropriate to the nature of the those events, and were kept brief.

    Most people would not be offended by the mild violence in this film, although it may not be appropriate for very young children. The “About” section on their Movie’s official website issued this statement in response to a question on whether the movie was suitable for children:

    This movie is not suitable for very young children. Although it is not rated, we would probably rate it a PG. Parental Guidance is advised. We would not advise viewing for children younger than pre-teens (11 and 12) and teens, but even so, parents should be aware that there are some scenes that might be too intense for their children, such as the murder of the innocents by King Herod as well as the crucifixion scenes.

    I agree with their assessment that it merits a PG rating.

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