I can see Al Pacino as Herod, which is rumoured to be his role in the coming film, Mary Mother of Christ (or is it Mary, the Mother of the Christ?). Camilla Belle as Mary: I just hope they do not use make-up on her face - at least not the kind that would increase her sultriness.
It looks as though the film will begin filming in Morocco this May. It will be directed by Alejandro Agresti. There's some kind of internet video going around that has pretensions to being the film's preview, or "teaser trailer". It's just the title of the movie with a drawing by Tommy Canning, overlaid with music swiped from The Passion of the Christ. No point in watching it.
The film's screenplay was written by Benedict Fitzgerald and co-written by Barbara Nicolosi. Fitzgerald wrote the screenplay with Mel Gibson for The Passion of the Christ. He also wrote the screenplay for John Huston's Wise Blood.
Mary Aloe, one of the producers, had this to say:
"This is not a Christmas movie. This is a part of Mary's life that has never been shown on the big screen before. It takes us through Mary's youth, young love, her life as a new mother and the triumph through the absolute terror of Herod the Great's reign. It is truly a story of real female empowerment."
Which makes me entirely and justifiably skeptical of the whole thing. I'm not one of those who castigated The Nativity Story over every single detail (I liked the film for allowing me to dwell on the bare fact the Jesus Christ was born), but the fact is, the portrait of Mary in that film was so utterly lame that it made the almost equally lame portrayal of Joseph look truly wonderful. Not wrong (though people, like iconographers, would soundly say the birth scene was wrong); just lame. So, well, this film Mary Mother of the Christ is probably going to be an even bigger sounding board for those ready to make criticism.
I hope the film turns out to be a miracle; an extraordinarily subtle portrayal of the Mother of God, in all her potentialized queenly majesty and her present humble invisibility. But I'm not holding out.