As part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Light the World Campaign, the Church released a new video depicting the nativity titled “The Christ Child.” BYU–Hawaii students said they enjoyed the realism portrayed in this nearly 18-minute reimagining of the Nativity.
In an article by Aubrey Eyre posted to the Church News website, Tom Pratt, the supervisor of the Church’s mass media efforts for the Missionary Department, says, “We try to present these people as real people in extraordinary circumstances. We tried to strip away a lot of the pageantry … We wanted to access the story from a really human point of view.”
Speaking about the context of the scriptures, Gwen Gottschall, a senior from Utah majoring in intercultural peacebuilding, said, “I feel like sometimes when we read the scriptures, we read them in the context of our time, and we don’t see it or understand it in the context of the people that wrote it.”
In an effort to be more realistic in this retelling of the Nativity, all of the characters spoke in Aramaic, without any English subtitles. Kayli Whiting, a sophomore from Utah majoring in psychology, said, “I liked how it wasn’t in English, the fact that they’re not speaking English makes it seem more authentic.”
The unity between Mary and Joseph was something Whiting said she enjoyed. During the scene which showed Mary giving birth, Joseph holds her hand, “I have never seen it portrayed that way, them relying on each other … it made the whole thing seemed more real,” she said.
Gottschall said the realism “made the story more human.” Gottschall said she enjoyed the prominence of Joseph during this new adaptation. She said it was a welcome surprise to see Joseph as an emotional husband as he saw his wife Mary give birth to Christ.
The miracles in the traditional Nativity story are made more miraculous when understood in the proper context said Gottschall. She gave the example of the Wise Men following the star for years as they searched for the Messiah.
“Imagine following a star for years and then finally finding what you were looking for ... The wise man crying when they saw Christ brought to light how powerful that moment was.”
Sara Zacher, a sophomore from Canada majoring in education, said she and her husband loved the new video. Zacher said their favorite part was the end of the video when the Wise Men visited Jesus as a toddler. “It’s crazy that the wise men were humble enough to bow to a toddler,” she said.
“I mean, they were rich and high in stature … Do you know how much humility it would take to bow down to a little kid? It would take so much.”
Whiting said she appreciates the Church putting out new versions of the Nativity story, she added, “It’s nice seeing different portrayals of scripture … it shows how things can be interpreted differently.”