Guest Essay Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher
MOVIEGUIDE® has put together a list of great movies for the Christmas season, starting with the movie that shows clearly the reason for the season, THE NATIVITY STORY.
- THE NATIVITY STORY, Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4 – 2006
THE NATIVITY STORY is one of those very rare movies that brings the Gospel alive in a compelling, interesting, entertaining manner that shatters expectations. The movie references and quotes Scripture throughout. King Herod sends out the troops to kill all the innocents in Bethlehem and stop the prophecy that there will be born a King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The movie then flashes back to a year earlier in the town of Nazareth, introducing the audience to the life of Joseph and Mary. Soon, an angel of God comes to Mary to tell her that she is with God’s child, born by the Holy Spirit. Joseph and Mary have to journey to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census. In the fullness of time, the prophecies of God are fulfilled.
THE NATIVITY STORY is a nearly perfect movie. It has one of the best scripts ever for a biblical story. A sense of jeopardy is present throughout. The dialogue, the plot development, the turning points are refreshingly dramatic. Best of all, THE NATIVITY STORY testifies in every way to Jesus the Messiah and is clearly evangelistic without being preachy.
- IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1946: Jimmy Stewart plays the beleaguered but good-hearted George Bailey, who finds out what life would be like if he’d never been born. A very slight caution is urged because of the false angelology, although the movie is number one on our list because of its emotive revelation of man’s relationship to God, who answers our prayers.
- A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4 – 1965: The great, classic television show is like a little animated movie. It’s about Charlie Brown pondering the meaning of Christmas, with Linus giving Charlie Brown the real reason for the season.
- SCROOGE, Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1951: Starring Alastair Sim, this well-crafted and faithful version of Dickens’ classic is so good it can be watched year round. Sim does a marvelous, classic job of bringing Scrooge to life in this heartwarming masterpiece. Furthermore, Tiny Tim is adorable, and the Cratchit family is absolutely heartwarming and tear-jerking.
- THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1992: This is a live-action musical that retells the classic Dickens story with all our Muppet favorites, and actor Michael Caine as Scrooge.
- JOYEAUX NOEL, Quality: * * * * Acceptability: -1 – 2006: JOYEAUX NOEL, or MERRY CHRISTMAS, is an international production that tells what happens when a group of French, Scottish and German soldiers in World War I decide on their own to call a truce on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and share some Christian brotherhood. MERRY CHRISTMAS has some of the most uplifting, most powerful and thought-provoking Christmas scenes ever put on film, but there are a few problematic elements requiring caution.
- BEN-HUR: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4 – 1959: Subtitled A TALE OF THE CHRIST, this is an epic story of a young Jewish man, Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, who lives at the time of Christ. When his sisters contract leprosy, he can either choose to hate the Romans or find healing and forgiveness through the blood of Christ.
- THE ROBE: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4 – 1953: Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature, this Hollywood Cinemascope spectacle is the story of a slave under the rule of Rome, who turns to Christianity when embracing the robe of Christ.
- THE KING OF KINGS (silent): Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4 – 1927: The famous H.B. Warner played Jesus in Cecil B. DeMille’s KING OF KINGS, which is still the classic of all movies about Jesus Christ.
- THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +1 – 2005: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based on C. S. Lewis’s popular Christian fable, tells the story of four English children, who enter the land of Narnia, where they meet Aslan, the son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea, who rescues the land from the evil White Witch. Despite some minor changes from the book, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE retains most of its Christian focus and is tremendously exciting, thrilling, and redemptive.
Now in Theaters: BLACK NATIVITY (see our review).
Dr. Ted Baehr is Founder and Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment and Chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry, as well as a noted critic, educator, lecturer, and media pundit. His life’s purpose is to be used of God to redeem the values of the media while educating audiences on how to use discernment in selecting their entertainment.
©2013 Used by permission