The Nativity Story/Danna

November 10, 2006

“Nativity Story” follows the lives of the Virgin Mary and Joseph two years prior to the birth of Jesus and for a period of time afterwards. It stars Keisha “Whale Rider” Castle-Hughes, Shohreh “House of Sand and Fog” Aghdashloo, and Oscar Isaac. Screenplay is by Mike Rich who worked on “Radio” and “The Rookie” and it is directed by a relative newcomer Catherine Hardwicke. Great pains are being taken so that christian families will be able to watch and enjoy this film over the holiday season. While likely no one group will ever be 100% satisfied Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic theologians have been consulted by Rich nearly every step of the way.

Mychael, was offered the opportunity to score based on his “ethnic soup” image he has established over the years for films such as “Little Miss Sunshine”, “8MM”, “Ride With The Devil”, and “The Sweet Hereafter”. Danna approached the project in a different way than Gabriel (“The Last Temptation of Christ”), Debney (“The Passion of Christ”), and brother Jeff who did (“The Gospel of John”) by looking at how the Nativity changed Europe through the growing of Christianity. Since he decided that it wasn’t going to have the middle eastern flavor but more of the renaissance period and middle ages of Europe he uses recorders and viols along with Gregorian chants. Because the Romans destroyed what material there was in 70AD we really don’t know what the music sounded like.

One of the really cool things about this score is how cleverly Mychael makes use of some of the traditional Christmas carols. An excellent example of this is in the track I’ve Broken No Vow a soft tranquil adagio theme which hints at “What Child Is This”. Silens Nox offers a nice version of “Silent Night” sung in Latin by a full choir. The featured “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is sung using the original 12th century Latin words. Words of the Prophet is a chant by a male group, Nazareth is a female solo, The Annunciation is female chanting. All are referenced from many melodies hundreds and even thousands of years ago. A track like Why Is It Me is quite moderning sounding (I’m reminded of a golden age composer)-most assuredly thought provoking and moving. Rosa Aeterna Floret, which ends the CD, is also a very nice thought provoking female sung song/chant. Veni, Veni Emanuel which begins with two church bells followed by a short statement of the Emmanuel sung by a male choir and then shifts into some more traditional sounding Danna underscore.

A word of caution! There are two different CD’s for this film, one song and one soundtrack which you can very easily confuse if you are not careful. Both to my knowledge are distributed by New Line and the song CD has already been released. The soundtrack or score CD from Danna is set for December 5, 2006 and the one that has been talked about in this article. As something which is really a fresh new view, yet still working with some of the traditional material it is a nice holiday addition to your collection. This is likely not a CD which is going to get a lot of plays during the year but come the Christmas season it is certainly recommended.

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