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‘The Star’ is a delightful animated adaptation of the story of the Nativity of Jesus, aimed for younger children. It includes a lot of entertaining animal characters (some of which accompanied Jesus in the manger when he was born) and some songs to make it appealing to young and old alike. While not exactly Disney-standard, there a lot of redeeming qualities that differentiate ‘The Star’ from other uninspired adaptations.
This film follows the story of Bo, the ambitious donkey working for the town’s miller who wants to be part of the Royal Caravan one day. One day he manages to escape with the help of his old friends, who at last recognizes the beauty of Bo’s dreams. By focusing on Bo instead of Christ or the story as it is written in the Bible, I was initially afraid that this film was going to be out of focus. You might argue that it still is so it can amuse its very young target audience. But I believe that at in its heart this film is still about Christ, the film just uses Bo’s story to give a fresh perspective on the narrative of the Nativity we all know so well.
This point is worth some emphasis. ‘The Star’ focuses more on Bo than on Christ, more on Herod’s buff soldier who tries to hunt down Joseph and the pregnant Mary than Herod himself, more on the camels carrying The Three Wise Men on their journey following the Star to the place where the Messiah is born in Bethlehem than on the Three Wise Men themselves and so on. Yet, when taking into consideration its target audience of young children, most of them not older than 7 or 8 years, it wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to portray the story of the Nativity as it truly was, with all of the persecution (of Christ by Herod) and bloodshed (“the massacre of the innocents”) the real story has. If you want a loyal adaptation of the story of the Nativity for your children, you have to look elsewhere, but if you want a lighthearted, fresh and new perspective this is as good as it gets.
A lot of comic relief is supplied by Bo’s amusing and loyal friend, the pigeon Dave. The villain, as those familiar with the Bible should know, is Herod, voiced by Christopher Plummer. The voice acting, it must be said, is not outstanding, in the sense that none of them really stand out, not even Mariah Carey as the horse, Rebecca, or Oprah Winfrey as one of the Three Wise Men’s camels, Deborah. Nevertheless, all of the voice actors manage to get the job done satisfactorily.
To conclude, I would like to add something about the film’s religious theme and inspiration. Even if you’re not a particularly religious person, you cannot fail to appreciate the epic grandeur and poetic beauty of the biblical account of the Nativity, such as the metaphoric and symbolic nature of the Star and the ironic facts that Jesus, the son of God, was born in a manger of all places and that Bo does end up working in a royal caravan by accompanying Joseph and Mary. The point the film wants to emphasize is that we are all following our own unique star, like Bo and Joseph and Mary, even if some of us don’t know where it is leading us or going to lead us yet.
I would recommend ‘The Star’, obviously keeping in mind all of the liberties it takes. To their credit, the producers do try to preserve all of the Christian values and significance that are to be found in the biblical account of the Nativity (if not the Bible itself). And that’s arguably the most important thing in an adaptation like this.
Christian has had many roles in life. He’s been a minister’s son, a poor student, a computer geek, a bible college dropout, a corporate suit, a traveling comedian, and a failure at much he’s tried. But he counts 2 huge successes in his life. He is husband to a wonderful wife, and father of two exceptional kids he wanted, a third ‘surprise baby’, and a In 2015, they met yet another surprise, as their fourth (and prayerfully last) child defeated birth control with her sheer will to exist. Having just missed Aaron in college by a few years, they connected online, finding they had a similar sense of humor [read: DARK] and decided to launch PlaidDadBlog. Christian hosts the ‘What Are We Watching?‘ podcast with his son Carlin, and just launched a new web series, DadSews, where he learns (an fails) to sew LIVE on camera. Check out the new After School Show, Mon-Thurs 6:30p EST.