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Watch: A behind-the-scenes look at ‘The Christ Child’ film

Watch: A behind-the-scenes look at ‘The Christ Child’ film

As part of the 2019 Light the World campaign, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in partnership with Boncom, released a video called “The Christ Child,” telling the well-known story of Christ’s birth in a new and meaningful way.

On Nov. 30, a 17-minute “behind-the-scenes” special was released that explored the history, artistry and scriptural insights that went into producing the short film.

The goal throughout the process of creating “The Christ Child” was to present the Nativity story in the most accurate way possible, Jeff Taylor, vice president and executive creative director of Boncom and co-creative director of the film, told the Church News last year when “The Christ Child” was released. The film captures and includes small details that help set the time and culture of the story in an accurate way while also not veering too far from what is recorded by scripture.

“We consulted with historians, biblical scholars, and we tried to create the atmosphere, the language, the dress, all these other details to the best of our knowledge,” Taylor said.

A significant moment in “The Christ Child” the behind-the-scenes video explores is Mary singing a lullaby to the newborn Jesus. The scene was not originally in the script, but during filming, the filmmakers had the idea to have Mary sing to her child. The filmmakers determined with historians that Mary would most likely have sung a psalm, and chose to use Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

“It was in theme with what we were trying to do, the story that we were telling of this light coming into the world,” said John Foss, the writer and director of “The Christ Child.”

Once the psalm was translated into Hebrew, Brooklyn McDaris, the actress playing Mary, drew from traditional Hebrew music forms to improvise a melody on-camera. 

Unlike other depictions of the Nativity story, “The Christ Child” portrays the accounts of the Savior’s birth as found in Matthew and Luke separately, rather than showing the wisemen and the shepherds arriving to greet the Savior in the same scene. 

“Rather than artificially blending them together in harmony where we have Luke’s shepherds and Matthew’s wise men all together in the scene at the same time,” said Dr. Matthew Grey, Bible historian and scholar, “we separate those accounts out a little bit so that we can get to know the story as Luke tells it first, and then transition over to the story as Matthew tells it.”

Read more: Here are 5 things that set ‘The Christ Child’ apart from other versions of the Nativity story

Another unique aspect of “The Christ Child” is the representation of the wisemen. Most New Testament scholars agree that Jesus would have been closer to a toddler’s age, Tom Pratt, supervisor of mass media efforts for the Church’s Missionary Department, told the Church News last year.

Filmmakers knew they wanted to show how the wisemen must have felt after years of waiting for this sign, seeing it and traveling across their world to meet the Savior face-to-face. 

A scene from “The Christ Child” video, produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shows the wise men as they come before the child Jesus.

A scene from “The Christ Child” video produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shows the wisemen as they come before the child Jesus.

Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“When we’re watching a film, we’re trying to find characters that we relate to, to connect with so that we can experience the story,” Foss said. “And the wise man does that in this moment. We all ask ourselves the same question — what would we do if we were in the same position? Would we be able to speak, what would we say, how would we act?” 

The film’s producers created this new version of the Nativity story because they saw the opportunity to explore the history and the context of the time in ways that hadn’t been seen before.

“We really wanted to give a gift to the world that testified that this happened to real people, and the Savior really was born in the world in fulfillment of ancient prophecy, to come and bring light, and ultimately bring salvation to the world,” Pratt said.

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