Humanity Beneath the Halo

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"I don't think they are going to be led to a film such as ours simply because it has a spiritual message," he said. "The responsibility, I think, as filmmakers we have is you have to make a good film and if you don't make a good film, it's not going to happen."

Biblical Movies Reflect Their Time

Hollywood tapping the Bible for inspiration is not new. But each generation gets the Bible movies that reflect its time.

In the 1950s, the Bible-based movies were epic in scope and reverential in nature. Then came the 1970s, with its counterculture emphasis in films such as "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar."

In "The Nativity Story," it is the relationships, the intimacy, and inner revelations that speak to today's audience.

"I think it's a reminder in a world that can be so polarized when it comes to religious ideas and ideology that humility is what opens people's hearts," Isaac said. "These were real people with real problems, yet they were still able to overcome those things because they were humble."

"The Nativity Story" will be the first movie to have its world premiere at the Vatican on Nov. 26, and opens nationwide in the United States on Dec. 1.

For Hardwicke, in addition to box-office success, there is a simpler goal as well.

"I hope they feel the love that we felt as we made it and the spirit of the very beginnings, of the first Christmas," she said. "I hope they feel it like we felt it."

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