Saturday, November 11, 2023

Movie Review: Journey to Bethlehem

 About the Movie:

A young woman carrying an unimaginable responsibility. A young man torn between love and honor. A jealous king who will stop at nothing to keep his crown. 

This live-action Christmas musical adventure for the entire family weaves classic Christmas melodies with humor, faith, and new pop songs in a retelling of the greatest story ever told—the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus. A unique new entry into the collection of holiday classic movies, this epic Christmas musical is unlike any before it. 

See JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM in theaters beginning November 10.

Watch the Trailer:

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed Journey to Bethlehem, a faith-based film focused on the events that preceded the birth of Jesus. As expected from the movie trailer, Journey to Bethlehem is a creative musical with characters that break into song and dance to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Whether the tracks were emotionally intense or lighter fanfare, the performers executed the songs and choreography with impressive precision and vocal quality.

The entire cast of Journey to Bethlehem performed well, but Antonio Banderas as the cruel King Herod was spot on. Fiona Palomo brought Mary’s humanity to the forefront of this story while Joel Smallbone (of the CCM band For King and Country) played the dark and unexpectedly fascinating character of Antipater (Herod’s son and heir to the throne).

Some favorite characters of mine in Journey to Bethlehem included Joseph, Aunt Elizabeth, and the three wise men. Joseph loved Mary well despite their unusual situation. Aunt Elizabeth didn’t spend much time on screen, but she spoke words of wisdom and humor. The three wise men offered comic relief with their interpersonal dynamics.

By accident or intention, Journey to Bethlehem held some 21st-century influence. On Mary’s journey to visit Elizabeth, she wore an orange dress that was lovely and modest, but not true to the time. Also, “aromatherapy”, “essential oils”, and “so stinkin’ good” are words/phrases of modernity with those items and experiences being expressed differently in past times.

I have read concerns that Journey to Bethlehem does not adhere to the Biblical account of events and portrays Mary as overly rebellious. In my opinion, the plot stayed true to the major events given in Scripture but filled in the unknowns with music and a creative narrative. The film presented the characters as real people with understandable challenges and emotions. Mary struggled to accept her betrothal to Joseph and expressed her feelings of inadequacy to be mother to the Son of God. However, there is never any doubt that she will be obedient to her earthly father and Heavenly Father.  Mary’s fears, desires, and emotions added depth to the story and made her feel human.

I also enjoyed the romance and the film creators’ take on how Mary and Joseph might have fallen in love and created a marriage partnership while living out their extraordinary life callings. A piece of creative license at the end allows Mary to explain that this baby, Jesus, came to save the lost – of which we all are a part. I appreciated the inclusion of humanity’s need for a Savior, though some may find a certain character’s presence unlikely. I do wish that Mary’s Magnificat had been included as it’s a beautiful passage of Scripture that could have fit seamlessly into the movie.

I watched Journey to Bethlehem with my daughters (ages 11 and 8). Both girls were okay with the content even during the darker scenes. They asked questions during the movie: “Did that really happen?” “I haven’t heard that before.” Etc.… We had a good conversation regarding the film, and it helped them understand that the Bible stories they learn hold truth, but only represent chosen parts of a person’s life.

To conclude my review of Journey to Bethlehem, I will say that watching this movie brought me edification and joy. I appreciated it all: the story, the songs and choreography, the romance, the character development of Mary and Joseph, and the humor. I plan to purchase a copy when it arrives on Blu-ray/DVD.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Many thanks to AFFIRM Films, Inc. for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

Learn more about JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM:

Flash Ticket Giveaway:

One reader of this post will receive two free tickets to see JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM. US only. Giveaway ends 11/13/2023 at 11:59 A. M. EST.

Enter by leaving a comment on this post that includes your full name and email address.


  1. Ashley Hedin

  2. Thanks! I love the music and think this would be great to see in theaters :) Susan Braun sjbraun at hotmail dot com

  3. Thank you for your honest review. I am hoping to get to see this movie soon.

    1. Sorry forgot my name and it would not let me edit the comment. Melissa Oldaker