Both children and adults will find themselves entertained with the Christian animated film, The Star, currently featured on Netflix.
The film portrays the familiar nativity story starting with the journey of Mary and Joseph as they make their way to Bethlehem, and the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, this familiar story is told from a unique perspective.
You see, The Star tells the nativity story from the perspective of the animals.
The animals are given fun personalities and voices and work together to protect the young family from a Roman guard and his vicious hounds sent by King Herod after he is apprised of the birth of a new king by three wise men from the East.
Without a doubt, the film is perfectly delightful.
Kids will enjoy the good-natured humor and charismatic personalities of the donkey, Bo, who wants nothing more than to escape his life as a beast of burden at the mill, and fulfill his great ambition of becoming a member of the royal procession.
He is accompanied by a quick-witted dove, Dave, and a gentle but individualistic lamb, Ruth, who struggles with finding her place within her flock.
Along the way, the animals meet up with the parents of John the Baptist and the camels of the Three Wise Men.
Though it is made for children, the film reveals it has far more layers than to be categorized as yet another simple retelling of the birth of Christ.
In fact, upon closer reflection, the subject matter delves much deeper into serious topics that are far more relatable for adults.
Often times, as we read through the Gospels and study the events of Christ’s birth, we dutifully read through the chapter and carry on to the next.
Yet, how often do we pause and truly take in the gravity of the scene and appreciate the harrowing adventure that Mary and Joseph experienced in order to arrive at Bethlehem?
How often do we give weight to the alarming socio-political environment they found themselves in?
Luke 2 presents the historical context and explains that Caesar Augustus required a census to be taken for the first time. Therefore, as a descendent of King David, Joseph and his wife were required to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in Judea.
But the timing couldn’t have been worse. This poor young bride was most probably in her teenage years and swollen with child.
Naturally, such an inconvenience is all part of God’s plan, for in order for the baby Jesus to be the Christ, he must fulfill hundreds of prophecies detailed in the Old Testament.
Among these, He must be born of a virgin, be born in Bethlehem, come out of Egypt, and be a Nazarene, so Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies declared hundreds of years before His birth and further validates the truth behind the Gospel.
Of equal importance, The Star represents the episode leading to the birth of Christ from Mary and Joseph’s perspective as parents and spouses.
After years of Christmas plays and holiday movies, when we read that Mary was a virgin, and that the Holy Spirit overcame her and she was then with Child, we may grow somewhat callous to what that must have been like for her.
But this film does a beautiful job of portraying her feelings of apprehension and of overwhelming joy, as well as her realistic concern of having to explain to her fiancé that she was with child, though she was still a virgin.
Likewise, the film represents the complexity of sentiments that Joseph experienced through this episode. Engaged to a woman who was pregnant with a child that was not his own, Joseph had every liberty to free himself from his promise to wed Mary.
But this anxiety was overcome by his desire to be obedient to God.
Moreover, the audience is exposed to the complexity of sentiments Joseph endured as he bore the burdensome responsibility of delivering his pregnant wife to Bethlehem and providing a safe haven for the birth of their child.
Needless to say, the anxiety Joseph felt to protect and provide for his young family, particularly during the most pivotal moment of their life, speaks to the heart of every father.
In addition to a deeper appreciation of the characters as individuals, the film illustrates the beautiful dynamics of marriage through its portrayal of the intricacies of Mary and Joseph as a couple.
Along their journey, there were several moments of fear and frustration. Despite the bitter reality they faced, the couple was quick to lean into one another and be the support that their partner needed.
Finally, the movie teaches a good lesson on the necessity of trials.
When we consider that Mary was pregnant with Christ, the Child of God, one would think she would be rewarded with a pleasant birthing experience.
Instead, Mary and Joseph endured one dramatic challenge after another. God did not prevent problems from entering their path. In fact, it is the vassals God chooses to use who experience the greatest trials.
But then, just as much as now, God promised to walk with us through these tribulations.
Indeed, it is through the endurance of trials that one builds faith and attains a testimony.
And just as God was with Mary and Joseph then, He is with us through our trials now.