Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Journey to Bethlehem Movie Review

Journey to Bethlehem Movie Review
Journey to Bethlehem Movie Review

Journey to Bethlehem - where do I start? I love inspirational movies, especially faith films that are Scripturally based.  I love sharing about great movies that inspire movie watchers to dig more into the Christian faith.  We usually buy the overpriced movie tickets, and then we buy the DVD versions when they are released.  We can show Hollywood that we want more faith based films by supporting the films financially.  Sadly, Journey to Bethlehem was disappointing.  Before I tell you what I didn't like about the movie, I'll tell you the three things I did like.

For those of you who are not familiar with Journey to Bethlehem, here is the official movie trailer.

Journey to Bethlehem - What I Liked About the Movie

1.  The movie creators did stick to Scripture when it came to identifying who Jesus is.  He is Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior.  They did not deviate from this truth.

2.  I liked two songs. 

Mother to a Savior and King

The Nativity Song

Mary's part at the end of The Nativity Song is beautiful so listen all the way to the end.

3.  I like the message of trusting God with our future, especially when things don't go as we planned.  God's plans for our lives are much greater than our own.  The blessings in store for us are much sweeter than we can think or imagine.  We just need to trust God.

That's about all I liked about the movie.

What I Did Not Like About Journey to Bethlehem

1.  The film is a musical comedy.  I don't particularly enjoy musicals, but that wasn't the problem.  My problem is the misplaced comedy.  I love a good comedy when it's appropriate, but the comedy in Journey to Bethlehem was not appropriate for this kind of movieThe wise men who followed the star to find Jesus were scholars.  They were some of the most intelligent scientists of their day.  They were not ridiculous goofs.  To be fair, we don't know much about their personalities.  Maybe they all had a good sense of humor, but in this film, they were portrayed as big ole goofs.  

2.  The Angel Gabriel was also portrayed as a bit of a goof.  When Gabriel descended into Mary room, he was portrayed as insecure.  The film creators had him pacing back and forth, reciting his sentences as if he wasn't sure what he should say.  Then, he clumsily bumps his head on a rafter beam.  The Angel Gabriel is an archangel, a messenger of God.  He isn't an insecure goof who doesn't know what he is supposed to say.  This moment was a holy moment in history.  This scene should have remained true to Scripture.  

3.  The film makers omitted Mary's response from Luke 1:38 when she tells Gabriel, "I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled."  Her obedient response speaks to her mature character as we know her in the Bible.  Before Gabriel leaves Mary, he tells her to cower to no one.  That is not in the Bible.  Why put it in the movie?

4.  Biblical Jospeh was a carpenter.  Journey to Bethlehem Joseph was an inventor.  Why change this?

5.  I believe Mary's and Joseph's personalities might have been misrepresented in the movie.  The Bible teaches us that Mary was highly favored by God.  Although we don't know much about Mary or Joseph before Gabriel appeared to Mary, I doubt they were the typical rebellious type teens of today.  Back then, there was no extension of childhood.  There was no "teenager."  You were a child, and then you were an adult and expected to act like one.  Based on what we know about human development today, particularly development of the brain, I'm sure they had youthful personalities, but probably not like what is portrayed in Journey to Bethlehem.  They were not perfect and Mary is not to be worshiped, but they were highly favored for a reason.  I know God used people of "colorful" character throughout the old testament and Mary and Joseph certainly were not perfect young people, but they are set apart because they were chosen to parent God's Son on Earth.  This was not just a half-calling, but an extremely important one that would require maturity.  This point is based on my personal opinion.  I know many will not necessarily agree with me and everyone is free to form their own opinions.  I just feel like they got this part wrong.

6.  King Herod tells his son to kill all pregnant women, but his son talks Herod out of that order.  If you are familiar with Scripture, you know that King Herod ordered all babies aged 2 and younger to be killed and that order was carried out.  It's horrific, but it happened.  This is an example of a Biblical historic account being completely changed.  Why change it?  They didn't have to show it, but to change it completely is in direct violation of Scripture itself.  The Bible tells us:
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. Deuteronomy 4:2 (NIV)
7.  In Journey to Bethlehem, King Herod's son leads a search to find the unwed pregnant mother.  His father, King Herod, wanted her dead.  This is not what we are told in the Bible.  The Biblical account of this historical event tells us that King Herod ordered the wise men to find the baby and then report back to him so that he could worship Him too.  We know that Herod's plan was ultimately to kill baby Jesus.  In Journey to Bethlehem, King Herod's son conducts a search for Mary.  He and his army find them in the barn just after Jesus is born.  This is not an accurate account of this holy night.  Why put this in the movie?  Then, when Mary, Joseph, and the wise men who were also there think King Herod's son is going to kill them all, Joseph, although he begs the king's son not to hurt them, is portrayed as weak, in my opinion.  Mary, who remembers Gabriel telling her to cower to no one stands up to King Herod's son.  Again, this scene is not true to Scripture.  In the scene, there were four men in the barn with Mary and baby Jesus.  Yet it was Mary who had just given birth who stood up to King Herod's son.  In those days, it would have been Joseph who stood up like a man to protect his wife and baby.  However, this particular event did not really happen anyway.  Why change it?  This was completely unnecessary.

Final Thoughts

I am thankful that the Christian movie industry has picked up in popularity in recent years.  I am happy that more and more people are going to theaters to see Christian films that will point them in the direction of the Bible and Jesus.  I know that film makers take certain creative licenses in order to fill in gaps and to make a story complete.  In some cases, these creative licenses make the move more entertaining.  That is all fine and good as long as said creative licenses do not change the original author's story.  For example, let's say a film is covering the part of the Bible where Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.  They made this journey every year.  When Jesus was 12 years old, his family left to return home with their family and friends as they did every year after the feast was over.  They did not realize until they had traveled an entire day that Jesus was not with them.  Joseph and Mary looked for Jesus among their relatives and friends, but they couldn't find him.  They found Jesus three days later in the temple.  We don't know what Joseph and Mary did or how they felt from the time they realized Jesus was missing to the moment they found him in the temple three days later.  A film maker might take certain creative licenses to fill in that three day gap.  This is acceptable as long as Joseph's and Mary's characters are not compromised and the creative licenses do not change the story at all.  

In the case of Journey to Bethlehem, the creative licenses added to and took away from the historical account as recorded in Scripture which was written by men but inspired by God.  There is no need to change the story.

When a movie is kept true to Scripture and it leads people to read the Bible or visit a church, they aren't going to question the accuracy of the historical accounts as recorded in the Bible because the movie and the church teachings are the same.  However, when a film deviates from Scripture as much as Journey to Bethlehem did, people might question the accuracy of the Bible once they realize the movie is very different from what is taught in the Bible and in churches.  What will they believe, especially if they are totally unfamiliar with Scripture or the Christian faith?  Deviating from Scripture creates confusion in the minds of those who are not familiar with Scripture.  We don't want to confuse people.  We want to lead them in the direction of truth, always TRUTH.  We never want anyone to think that parts of Scripture might not be true.  We never want to lead anyone to question the authority of the Bible.

A lot of people will enjoy the film which is more like a broadway production than a drama based on Scripture.  It isn't the worst movie in the world, but personally, this is not a movie I particularly enjoyed or one that I would recommend.  I like humor.  I love comic relief in a film when it is done correctly.  I detest dumb humor no matter the movie, but I especially hated it in Journey to Bethlehem.  What bothers me more than anything is so many Scriptural inaccuracies.  Way too much of this story was changed and that is not OK.

I saw the film with a group of people.  There were things about the movie we all agreed was not great, but I probably disliked the movie more than everybody else.  If you really want to go see it, then go see it and form your own opinion so you can decide whether or not you want your kids to see it, but I do not recommend this film due to way too many "creative licenses" that are not accurate.   

Journey to Bethlehem is entertaining, but if you want to take your family to a movie about the birth of Jesus that stays true to Scripture, Journey to Bethlehem is not that movie.   

Journey to Bethlehem Movie Review
Journey to Bethlehem Movie Review

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