×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mary, Mother of Jesus

NBC's "Mary, Mother of Jesus" is the mother of all Biblepics. A genuinely captivating take on the life of Jesus, pic comes at things from something of a Lifetime-esque perspective. That is, it presents the tale through the eyes of Mary, focusing on her pride, her passion and -- naturally -- her trauma upon her son's crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.

With:
Mary of Nazareth - Pernilla August Jesus of Nazareth - Christian Bale Joseph - David Threlfall Elizabeth - Geraldine Chaplin Young Mary -Melinda Kinnaman Young Jesus - Toby Bailiff Herod - Hywel Bennett Rueben - Christopher Lawford Mary Magdalene - Simone Bendix John the Baptist - Christopher Routh With: Crispin Belfrage, Robert Addie, Michael Mears

NBC’s “Mary, Mother of Jesus” is the mother of all Biblepics. A genuinely captivating take on the life of Jesus, pic comes at things from something of a Lifetime-esque perspective. That is, it presents the tale through the eyes of Mary, focusing on her pride, her passion and — naturally — her trauma upon her son’s crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.

Nevertheless, exec producers Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Bobby Shriver exhibit great passion and care in crafting such an uncommonly inspiring rendering of the spiritual perennial. “Mary” is genuinely moving, never sailing over the top to drive home its plentiful religious points.

Sharing credit with the Shrivers for the achievement are Swedish actress Pernilla August (who turns in a heart-rending, graceful perf as Mary) and helmer Kevin Connor, whose control over his players and grasp of the material are consistently superior. August, who was a standout portraying Anakin Skywalker’s mother in “Star Wars, Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace,” hits all of the right notes while establishing a mesmerizing presence.

Albert Ross’ sharply focused teleplay (with an assist from John Goldsmith) gets a helping hand at the outset from this uniquely honest disclaimer: “While dramatic license has been taken, we believe this film reflects the spirit and historical significance of the Biblical story of Mary and Jesus.” In other words, theologians, don’t get all crazy, because this doesn’t claim accuracy.

Film frames Mary’s story from her own childhood, her visit from God and the subsequent Immaculate Conception, as well as Mary’s nurturing of her son from birth through resurrection. Jesus is played as a peace-loving youth (by 14-year-old Toby Bailiff) and a destiny-driven young adult (nice work from Christian Bale, who brings to Jesus hunky, Matthew McConaughey-style looks).

The climactic moments of “Mary, Mother of Jesus” are played to wrenching effect, particularly the death of Jesus’ father Joseph (David Threlfall) and the crucifixion itself.

What truly distinguishes the production — besides some exquisitely understated period details, fine acting and sumptuous location work in Budapest — is its very simplicity. It never falls prey to the kind of overheated rapture so common to Biblical epics, illustrating instead the skepticism of the masses and hostility among those in power that would ultimately prove Jesus’ undoing.

Maria Hrudy’s winning costume design, as well as all of the tech credits, prove to be on the money.

Mary, Mother of Jesus

NBC; Sun. Nov. 14, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Budapest, Hungary, by the Shriver Family Film Co. Executive producers, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Bobby Shriver; producer, Howard Ellis; director, Kevin Connor; writer, Albert Ross; based on material by John Goldsmith.

Crew: Camera, Elemer Ragalyi; production designer, Keith Wilson; costume designer, Maria Hruby; art director, Alistair Kay, Zsuzsa Borvendeg; music,Ken Thorne; editor, Barry Peters; sound, Clive Copland;casting, Noel Davis, Zsolt Csutak. 120 MIN.

Cast: Mary of Nazareth - Pernilla August Jesus of Nazareth - Christian Bale Joseph - David Threlfall Elizabeth - Geraldine Chaplin Young Mary -Melinda Kinnaman Young Jesus - Toby Bailiff Herod - Hywel Bennett Rueben - Christopher Lawford Mary Magdalene - Simone Bendix John the Baptist - Christopher Routh With: Crispin Belfrage, Robert Addie, Michael Mears

More TV

  • Picture shows: Gemma Foster (SURANNE JONES)

    India's Hotstar to Remake BBC Thriller 'Doctor Foster'

    Hit BBC thriller “Doctor Foster” is to be remade in India following the sale of the scripted format to streaming platform Hotstar Specials. Disney-owned Hotstar has collaborated with BBC Studios to adapt the series for Indian audiences. Indian filmmakers Tigmanshu Dhulia and Aijza Khan are directing the show, which is yet to be titled and [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Watch Signs Content Pact With France's M6, Unveils European Short-Form Slate

    Facebook Watch has inked a content pact with French channel M6 and unveiled a slate of short-form content from European digital publishers for the platform. The deal with M6 will see the French broadcaster place spinoff programming from some of its hit shows on Facebook Watch. M6 will run pre- and after-show clips, interviews, and [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Amazon Drops ‘Marvelous

    TV News Roundup: Amazon Releases ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Season 3 Trailer

    In today TV’s news roundup, Amazon Prime Video releases the Season 3 trailer for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and Showtime announces Celeste Barber’s standup special premiere date.  DATES Showtime’s forthcoming comedy special “Celeste Barber: Challenge Accepted” will air Nov. 1.  This marks Barber’s televised standup debut. She is best-known for her viral Instagram hashtag #celestechallengedaccepted. [...]

  • Tom Succession

    'Succession': Matthew Macfadyen on the Status of 'Tomelette' After Season 2 Finale

    Matthew Macfadyen hasn’t even seen the second season finale of “Succession” yet, but says he wasn’t surprised by how it ended when he read the script. Over the course of the series, Macfadyen’s character Tom has suffered at the expense of the Roy family on personal and professional levels. Will he turn a new leaf [...]

  • Jason Sudeikis Apple

    Jason Sudeikis Sets Ted Lasso Comedy Series at Apple

    Jason Sudeikis is bringing his Ted Lasso character to Apple’s upcoming streaming service. Variety has learned that Apple TV Plus has given a series order to “Ted Lasso,” on which Sudeikis will star in addition to writing and executive producing. In the series, Sudeikis plays Lasso, an idealistic all-American football coach hired to manage an [...]

  • CENTRAL PARK FIVE

    Netflix and Ava DuVernay Sued by Police Interrogation Firm

    The company behind a controversial police interrogation technique filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Netflix and director Ava DuVernay, claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s miniseries on the Central Park jogger case. John E. Reid and Associates developed the Reid Technique in the late 1940s, and it has continued to offer training materials [...]

  • Noah Oppenheim

    NBCU Has Likely Succession Plan Set at NBC News

    NBC News President Noah Oppenheim has been battling Ronan Farrow in recent and disturbing headlines, but the executive remains the most likely candidate to succeed NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack, according to people familiar with the matter. Lack, who has seen NBC News through one of its most tumultuous eras, has a contract [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content