The Nativity Story
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The Nativity Story is a 2006 American biblical drama film based on the nativity of Jesus and directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes, Oscar Isaac, Hiam Abbass, Shaun Toub, Alexander Siddig, Ciarán Hinds, and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

The Nativity Story premiered in Vatican City on November 26, 2006, making it the first film to hold a world premiere in the city, and was released in the United States on December 1, 2006, by New Line Cinema. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $46 million worldwide.


The story begins in the Roman province of Judea with the portrayal of the Massacre of the Innocents in the Nativity. The remainder of the film portrays the annunciation and birth of Jesus Christ to explain why King Herod the Great (Ciarán Hinds) ordered the murder.

One year before the massacre, Zechariah (Stanley Townsend), a rabbi in Jerusalem, is making an offering, when he is told in a vision by the Archangel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) that his wife, Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo), will bear a son. Zechariah does not believe him, stating that he is too old, and Gabriel tells him that he will be unable to speak until the boy is born. In Nazareth, 16 to 17-year-old Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is farming when soldiers come to collect taxes. One man, unable to pay, has a third of his land seized and his daughter pressed into debt slavery. Mary, betrothed to marry 32-year-old Joseph of Judaea (Oscar Isaac), is visited by Archangel Gabriel and told that she will become pregnant with God s son, whom she is to name Jesus . He tells her that God has blessed her cousin Elizabeth with a child despite her old age. Mary visits her before the harvest, where she witnesses the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth and Zechariah, who regains his speech. Mary returns from the visit pregnant, to the shock of Joseph and her parents, who fear that Joseph will accuse her of adultery, a sin punishable by death by stoning according to the Torah. At first Joseph does not believe Mary s religious explanation, but decides not to accuse her. Still shocked and angry, he is later visited in a dream by the Archangel Gabriel, who tells him of God s plan for Mary s son. Finally believing, he is ashamed of his earlier doubts.

Meanwhile, Roman emperor Caesar Augustus has demanded that every man across the Roman Empire return with his family to his place of birth for the census. A direct descendant of King David, Joseph is forced to travel 110 kilometers (68 mi) across Judea s rocky terrain from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the place of his birth. With Mary on a donkey laden with supplies, it takes the couple nearly four weeks to reach Bethlehem. Upon arriving in town, Mary goes into labour, and Joseph frantically seeks a place for her to deliver. There is, however, no room in any inn or home because of the crowds arriving for the census, but at the last minute an innkeeper offers his stable for shelter.

Meanwhile, three Magi—Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar (Stefan Kalipha, Nadim Sawalha and Eriq Ebouaney) —travel towards Judaea after having previously discovered that three planets will align to form a great star. This Star of Bethlehem appears before the Magi, after a visit by the Archangel Gabriel. The Magi visit Herod and reveal to him that the Messiah is still a child and he will be a Messiah for the lowest of men to the highest of kings. Shocked by this, Herod asks that they visit the newborn Messiah and report the child s location back to him, under the pretence that he, too, would like to worship him, while in fact he plans to kill the baby for fear of a new king taking his throne. The Magi arrive at the stable where Mary is giving birth to Jesus, and they present the Infant with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Suspicious of his intentions, the Magi avoid Herod, returning home via a different route. Herod realises that the Magi have tricked him and orders the death of every boy in Bethlehem under the age of two. Joseph is warned in a dream of the danger and flees to Egypt with Mary and Jesus as the film ends.


  • Oscar Isaac as Joseph
  • Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary
  • Hiam Abbass as Anna
  • Shaun Toub as Joachim
  • Ciarán Hinds as Herod the Great
  • Shohreh Aghdashloo as Elizabeth
  • Stanley Townsend as Zechariah
  • Alexander Siddig as the Angel Gabriel
  • Eriq Ebouaney as Balthasar
  • Alessandro Giuggioli as Herod Antipas
  • Nadim Sawalha as Melchior
  • Stefan Kalipha as Saint Caspar


The film was shot in Matera and Craco, Italy, and Ouarzazate, Morocco.


Box office

The Nativity Story opened to a modest first weekend at the domestic box office by grossing $7.8 million, with a 39% increase over the extended Christmas weekend. After its initial run, the film closed out with about $37.6 million in domestic gross and $8.8 million in foreign gross, resulting in a worldwide total of almost $46.4 million on a reported $35 million budget.

Critical response

The Nativity Story received mixed reviews. As of June 2020, the film holds a 37% approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 131 reviews with an average rating of 5.29/10. The site s consensus says, The Nativity Story is a dull retelling of a well-worn tale with the look and feel of a high-school production. Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 52 based on 28 reviews.

A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review saying, At its best, The Nativity Story shares with Hail Mary an interest in finding a kernel of realism in the old story of a pregnant teenager in hard times. Buried in the pageantry, in other words, is an interesting movie. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post concluded a positive review of the film stating, The most intriguing thing about The Nativity Story transpires during the couple s extraordinary personal journey, advancing a radical idea in an otherwise long slog of a cinematic Sunday school lesson: that Jesus became Who He was not only because He was the Son of God, but because He was the son of a good man.

Conversely, many critics felt that the film did not take the story to new cinematic heights. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly noted, The Nativity Story is a film of tame picture-book sincerity, but that s not the same thing as devotion. The movie is too tepid to feel, or see, the light. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, This is not a chance to experience the most timeless of stories as you ve never seen it before but just the opposite: an opportunity, for those who want it, to encounter this story exactly the way it s almost always been told.


Keisha Castle-Hughes became pregnant during filming, at the age of 16, and received a lot of media attention.


Mychael Danna s score of the film was released as an album on December 5, 2006. The album was nominated for a Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year at the 39th GMA Dove Awards.

An album of songs inspired by the film was also released under the title The Nativity Story: Sacred Songs. It featured music by artists like Point of Grace, Amy Grant, Jaci Velasquez, and others.

Year 2005
ReleaseDate 2006-12-01
RuntimeMins 101
RuntimeStr 1h 41min
Plot A drama that focuses on the period in Mary and Joseph’s life where they journeyed to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
Awards Awards, 3 wins & 3 nominations
Directors Catherine Hardwicke
Writers Mike Rich
Stars Keisha Castle-Hughes, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Oscar Isaac
Produced by Marty Bowen,Cale Boyter,Michael Disco,Toby Emmerich,Judd Funk,Wyck Godfrey,Catherine Hardwicke,Mike Rich,Enzo Sisti,Tim Van Rellim
Music by Mychael Danna
Cinematography by Elliot Davis
Film Editing by Robert K. Lambert,Stuart Levy
Casting By Priscilla John,Mindy Marin,Juliette Ménager,Shaila Rubin
Production Design by Stefano Maria Ortolani
Art Direction by Maria-Teresa Barbasso,Antonio Tarolla,Marco Trentini
Set Decoration by Alessandra Querzola
Costume Design by Maurizio Millenotti
Makeup Department Mariam Lee Abounouom,Nezha Aouis,Diego Avolio,Alberto Blasi,Laura Borselli,Hiba Boukili,Liliana Bouladoux,Giacinto Bretti,Jana Carboni,Maria Teresa Corridoni,Alessandro Durante,Renato Francola,Marta Iacoponi,Carla Indoni,Maria Jittou,Khadija Najahi,Arianna Palmucci,Luigi Rocchetti
Production Management Andrea Alunni,Moncef Belam,Alfredo Colangeli,Vito Colazzo,Ian Hickinbotham,Erik Holmberg,Udi Nedivi,Jay Vinitsky
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Tarik Ait Ben Ali,Hamid Ait Timaghrit,Alain Aswani,Inti Carboni,Mouhssine El Badaoui,Yann Mari Faget,Alessandra Fortuna,Richard Graysmark,Harvey Harrison,Ahmed Hatimi,Jamie Marshall,Nata More,Justin Muller,Edoardo Petti,Yozo Tokuda
Art Department Tarik Amchemar,Abdellah Baadil,Youness Benbakrim,Francesca Birri,Luigi Calvitti,Federico Calò Carducci,Massimo Ciaraglia,Federico Costantini,Davide De Stefano,Massimo Di Palma,Cristiano Donzelli,Hicham El Kounti,Said El Kounti,Roberta Federico,Antonio Fraulo,Nabil Ghouat,Peter Hooper,Sandra Jelmini,Giuliana Lipparini,Domenico Mancino,Jon Marson,Sebastiano Murer,Soufiane Ousaadi,Aziz Rafiq,Domenico Reordino,Monica Sallustio,Luca Tranchino,Fernando Valento,Francesco Valento,Claudio Villa,Daniela Voccia,Giulia Chiara Crugnola,Aziz Hamichi,Matthew Richard Harris
Sound Department Brahim Ait Belkas,Beau Borders,Gary C. Bourgeois,Paul Timothy Carden,Rickley W. Dumm,Russell Farmarco,Fabio Felici,Simon Firsht,Frank Gaeta,Luis Galdames,Patrick Giraudi,Catherine Harper,Ethan Holzman,Rick Kline,Darrin Mann,Christopher Moriana,Todd Niesen,Thomas O Neil Younkman,Sarah Payan,Fred Peck III,Lucifer Roesch,Greg Steele,Cameron Steenhagen,Erik Swanson,Tami Treadwell,Dylan Voigt,Ian Voigt,Nourdine Zaoui,Greg Zimmerman,Iain Jamieson
Special Effects by Renato Agostini,Mohamed Ali Aqermim,Danilo Bollettini,Maurizio Corridori,Franco Simeone,El Hassan Tib
Visual Effects by Stephanie Allen,Edward Leroy Anderson,Carlos Arguello,David Arredondo,Marvin L. Barillas,David Beedon,Brian Begun,Elizabeth Beier,Thad Beier,Daniel Birnbaum,Chris Bond,Kevin Bouchez,Shannan Burkley,Elika Burns,Daniel Chuba,Thomas Clary,Chad E. Collier,Janice Barlow Collier,Maria Ines Comparini,Sean Coonce,Aliza Corson Chameides,Toby Cortes,Robert Cribbett,Lee Croft,Peter Beak Cvijanovic,Jamie Dixon,Brady Doyle,Joe Dubs,Michelle Eisenreich,Jesse Fernley,Ramiro A. Garcias,Florian Gellinger,Gilbert Gonzales,Fred Haro,Scott Harper,Kamal Hatami,Claas Henke,Jose M. Hernandez,Veronica Hernandez,Darin Hilton,Deborah Hiner,Elizabeth Hitt,Nate Homan,Brian Jones,Justin Jones,Kelly Rae Kenan Green,Hong Kim,Roger Kupelian,James Kuroda,Bonnie Lemon,Dan Levitan,Benjamin Liu,Michael Liv,Peter Lloyd,Jo Lockman,Carlos Long,Margaret B. Lynch,Mauricio Macal,Rebecca Marie,Doris Marroquin,Richard Matsushita,Mamie McCall,Morgan McDermott,Mimi Medel,Daniel Mellitz,Daniel Miller,Fatima Mojaddidy,Alejandra Molina,Miguel Monterroso,Adam Newman,Claire O Brien,Oxcar Orellana,Ricardo F. Ortiz,Ludwing Paniagua,Clint A. Perez,Todd Sheridan Perry,Douglas Pineda,Corinne Pooler,Jerry Pooler,Kelly Port,James E. Price,Michael Ramirez,Rodrigo R. Ramirez,Marco Recuay,Pedro Ruiz,Theresa Ellis Rygiel,Evelyn Salguero,Olivier Sarda,Christopher Savides,Moshe Sayada,Robert Schajer,Kino Scialabba,Aaron Seelman,Jaeil Seo,Jane Sharvina,M. Zachary Sherman,Jay Shindell,John Textor,Daniel C.J. Todd,Linda Tremblay,Lily C. Vasquez,Sarah Vinson,Scott Vosbury,Shawn Wallbridge,Pablo Ware,Carsten Woithe,Garson Yu,Andres Zea,Ken Zorniak,Amanda Hampton,Dan Patterson,Kristen Swanson
Stunts Benamara Azeddine,Joseph Beddelem,Hami Belal,Federico Benvenuti,Othman Ilyassa,Philippe Losson,Stefano Maria Mioni,Emiliano Novelli,Marco Pancrazi,Valentina Paradiso,Catia Pasqualoni,Francois Poirier,Cedric Proust,Massimo Racca,Gabriele Ragusa,Federico Regazzo,Florian Robin,Roberto Sgarbi,Ferdinando Stazzone,Mustapha Touki,Massimiliano Ubaldi
Camera and Electrical Department Andy Arnautov,Lyamani Bouhmdi,Alessio Bramucci,Daniele Caiuli,Massimo Cecchini,Marco Contaldo,Fabio De Meis,Ider Eddadsi,Moulay Mustapha El Idrissi,Mauro Faina,Andrea Fioravanti,Paolo Frasson,David Galbraith,Gian Claudio Giacomini,Harvey Harrison,Ladislav Hruby,Paolo Leurini,Emanuele Loreti,Duccio Maccari,Marcostavros Maggi,Giulio Magnolia,Paolo Marchetti,Driss Marzak,Youssef Mohattane,Rachid Mssiaidi,Miroslav Pavlik,Alessandro Picchi,Zdenek Pozar,Imad Rechiche,Flaviano Ricci,Emanuele Salvatore,Prokop Satochin,Fulvio Sergianni,Jaromir Simek,Kamaleddine Talmi,Emiliano Topai,Mauro Toscano,Jaimie Trueblood,Daniele Verdenelli,Giacomo Zampieri,Davide Zanetti,Aziz Zougar
Casting Department Mohamed Essaghir Aabach,Faith Allbeson,Yael Aviv,Donna DeSeta,Michela Forbicioni,Zinedine Ibnou Jabal,Krassimir Ivanov,Hervé Jakubowicz,Kara Lipson,Russell Scott,Omar Tisli
Costume and Wardrobe Department Lahcen Abbana,Abeghrazmustapha,Najat Ait Badi,Marco Baratti,Patrizia Barbera,Marco Berrettoni,Luca Canfora,Massimo Cantini Parrini,Giovanni Casalnuovo,Hassan Ghazouany,Rebecca Higginson,Francesco Luperini,Tiziana Magris,Lucilla Simbari,Alice Spigno,Hassan Taghriti
Editorial Department Hassan Aridal,Terra Bliss,Gary Burritt,Ken Gales,Rachel Faith Hanson,Lara Khachooni,Natasha Leonnet,Marc Lulkin,Daniela Ovi,Jim Passon,Robert E. Phillips,John Potter,Jonny Winograd,Jack Lewars
Location Management Ngadi Abdeslam,Stefano Biraghi,Driss Gaidi,Souheil Hallaoui,Kamal Ounejjar,Erik Paoletti,Milena Bono Parodi
Music Department Azam Ali,Lindsay Ashworth,Leanne Becknell,Lee Blaylock,Joe Breaux,Paul Broucek,Tom Brown,Bryan Clements,Stephen Coleman,Wade Culbreath,Debbi Datz-Pyle,Nicholas Dodd,Andrew Duckles,Mark Eshelman,Richard Ford,Matt Franko,Scott Gutierrez,Brad Haehnel,Jim Hoffman,The Hollywood Studio Symphony,The Hollywood Symphony Orchestra,Russ Howard III,Jonathan A. Hughes,Shira Kammen,Brian Kilgore,Joanna Forbes L Estrange,Greg Loskorn,Stephanie Lowry,Andrew Lumsden,Adam Michalak,Christopher Moroney,Davide Palmiotto,Victor Pesavento,Kim Reese,Cassandra Richburg,Lori Silfen,Rob Simonsen,Steven L. Smith,Jill Streater,James Thatcher,Lawrence Wallington,John F.X. Walsh,Helen Werling,Kirsty Whalley,Joe Zimmerman,Gina Zimmitti
Script and Continuity Department Eleonora Baldwin,Julie Brown
Transportation Department Daniele Abeille,Khalid Ameskane,Paolo Bernardini,Leonardo de Angelis,Hicham Regragui,Sava Stoian
Additional Crew Hiam Abbass,Mira Abu Sinni,Barbara Adducci,Saad Ajedigue,Gabrielle Allen,Carlo Antonioni,Mohamed Atbir,Elhoussaine Baouzine,Cassandra Barbour,Ludovico Bettarello,Katherine E. Beyda,Aziz Bousfiha,Enrico Bruschini,Stephan Burle,Jerome Butler,Sabrina Canale,Houssna Choukri,Claudia Cimmino,Matthew Cohen,Alan Cossettini,Kathi Danielson,Marco De Luca,Nicola Di Marzio,Roy Doliner,Jessica Drake,Saida Elidrissi,Julio Ferrario,Alice Filippi,Maria Fiorito,Chiara Fregoso,William J. Fulco,Alessandro Giuseppini,Emily Glatter,Dionne Gordon,Pamela B. Green,Holly Hagy,Samir Hawa,Lesley Hazleton,Elek Hendrickson,Robert S. Hoffman,Rani Isbanyoli,Silvie Janculová,Nazha Kajja,Steve Kesmodel,Jerzy Lamirowsky,Gianni Marini,Edoardo Martino,Pasquale Martino,Norma Marie Mascia,Alex Matcham,Cariddi McKinnon Nardulli,Maham Mehrabi,R.J. Millard,Ryan Miningham,Nata More,Myra Moreta,Umberto Pannacci,Carla Maria Perrina,Pacetti Priscilla,Cedric Proust,Mohammed Hamza Regragui,Alfredo Scalone,Rick Schirmer,Annalisa Schmid,Laura Sevier,Massimiliano Sisti,Stefania Sisti,Jesse Springer,Valerio Stano,Lora Marie Taylor,Dena Twain,Jarik Van Sluijs,Lorenzo Verderame,Alex Wayaffe,Wanda Zaccaro,Ronald C. Briggs Jr.,Cristiano Sebastianelli
Genres Adventure, Drama, Family
Companies New Line Cinema, Sound for Film, Temple Hill Entertainment
Countries USA
Languages English, Hebrew
ContentRating PG
ImDbRating 6.8
ImDbRatingVotes 11669
MetacriticRating 52
Keywords palestine,nazareth israel,star,f rated,year 1