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Today’s Prayer Focus

Journey to Bethlehem

also known as “Camino a Belén,” “Camino a Belen”
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for thematic elements.

Check back later for review coming from contributor Simon Lapuangkham

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Family • Teens • Adults
Christmas Musical
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 10, 2023 (wide release—1800 screens)
Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Picturesclick photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures

THE FEAR OF THE LORD— What is it? Why is it very important? Answer

What is the true meaning of CHRISTMAS?

Jesus Christ: His Identity, Life, Death and Resurrection
About JESUS CHRIST—Answers to frequently-asked-questions

Is Jesus Christ just a legend? Answer

Is Jesus Christ a man, or is he God? Answer

Was Jesus Christ God, manifest in human form? Answer

Is Jesus Christ really God? Answer

Who is Mary, mother of Jesus?

Who is Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus Christ?

Who is Herod the Great?

Who is Herod Antipas?


TRINITY—How can one God be three persons? Answer

Christmas movies
REVIEWS of “Christmas” movies

Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures
Featuring Fiona PalomoMary
Milo ManheimJoseph
Antonio BanderasHerod the Great
Joel Smallbone … Antipater
Geno SegersBalthazar
See all »
Director Adam Anders
Producer Affirm Films
Anders Media
See all »
Distributor Distributor: Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures. Trademark logo.Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “This live-action musical celebration weaves classic Christmas melodies into new pop songs in a music-infused retelling of the timeless story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus.

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. 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 celebration for the entire family, weaves classic Christmas melodies into new pop songs in a music-infused retelling of the timeless 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.”

Streaming video— 
“Watch this before you go see this movie”
Todd Friel gives helpful frameworks for how Christians should think through artistic portrayals of biblical concepts, including “Journey to Bethlehem.”
Video by Wretched
Length: 9 minutes

An accurate explanation of the purpose Jesus Christ’s birth. Answers for skeptics. Plus Christmas carols, games, coloring pages, reviews of Christmas movies, and more…

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I have watched Journey to Bethlehem and found that the copied and pasted “review” that people are passing around to be an overaction to a beautiful, well made film that the makers explicitly say is not meant to be added to the Scriptures.

Here’s my response to the false review that has been passed around the Internet (warning spoilers)

1. Mary is not rebellious, but reluctant. Mary does say twice that she wants to be a teacher instead of being married. However, this is because her father inspired such a dream by teaching her the Scriptures. Ultimately she submits to both her parents and God’s will. (Spoiler) The film ends with her dream coming true with her and Joseph teaching Jesus the Scriptures during his childhood.See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
C.W., age 36 (USA)
Positive—The movie states they took some license with the story, but the essence of the gospel is still in the story. The music is fabulous! Adam Anders who directed the movie was part of Steven Curtis Chapman’s band in the late 1990’s. His wife Niki was part of Avalon for their first album which featured their biggest hit, “Testify To Love”. The acting is excellent and the pace of the movie is spot on. Who knew that Antonio Banderas could sing? He does a great job as Herod and Joel Smalbone as Anti-Pater does a good job as well as his son. The choreography is excellent as well. All in all a great movie (and I do not care for musicals)!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Wayne, age 68 (USA)
Positive—Having viewed this movie, the information about it spread on the Internet to 45,000 people is not true, and therefore becomes misinformation. Points have been adressed by previous reviewers here and I agree. Those who wrote on the Internet, repeated what one person said, who had not seen the movie when it was finished, only at one of the very first test showings, which were done so people can express their opinions and the filmmakers can address a possible problem and adjust. She wrote her post two months after the test showing! Then the other 44,000 jumped on the bandwagon and 99% had not seen it themselves but were warning people to go and see it. What do they let their kids watch without objections, I wonder?See all »
Neutral—Missed opportunity, sadly. “Based on a true story’ and “Creative license was used’ should be in bold. To clarify, in this version:

1) Mary is portrayed as wanting a career and upset about having an arranged marriage.
2) Joseph says he, too, “doesn’t have a choice’ regarding the betrothal.
3) The angel Gabriel is portrayed as bumbling and rehearsing his message from God to Mary.
4) The conversation between Gabriel and Mary leaves out Mary replying “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” or anything along those lines.
5) When Elizabeth and Mary meet, nothing about their conversation (as reported by Matthew) is portrayed.
6) Herod’s son Antipater is shown personally trying to track down Mary and Joseph.
7) Female Roman soldiers = historically accurate or just “woke”?
8) Joseph comes to Mary at Zacharias’ and Elizabeth’s home and they have Zacharias the priest to marry them (because the Romans are searching for an unmarried pregnant girl).
9) The Magi are portrayed for comic effect and the Magi (not shepherds) hear the angel’s announcement.
10) The Magi arrive at the stable in Bethlehem precisely after Jesus’ birth (again, no shepherds) followed by Antipater and his soldiers.
11) Mary stands up to Antipater and his soldiers.
12) Antipater spares Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus and gives them safe passage. (As we know, this is the same heir who becomes Herod Antipas, the one who marries Herodias, his brother’s wife, and has Elizabeth’s son, John (the Baptist), beheaded.)

I did like some aspects of the film. Joseph’s dream with him fighting himself to symbolically show his conflict over Mary. Antonio Banderas as Herod the Great—how he shifts from agreeable host to paranoid, dangerous psychopath with a look in the eyes and subtle expressions. The marriage of Mary and Joseph was beautiful. The incorporation of traditional Christmas carols. Symbolism touches, such as the lamb leading the Magi into the stable.

I understand reasonable creative license (such as in “The Chosen”), but why does “Journey to Bethlehem” completely change events and dialogue clearly depicted in the Gospels? It comes across as injecting 21st century “values’ into ancient Judea and misrepresenting the Biblical account.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Tori, age 50+ (USA)
Negative—Today my husband and I went to see “Journey to Bethlehem.” We were excited by the Trailer and knowing of several actors in the film. This past year we were happy to see so many Christian films coming out in the theaters, we have wanted to support them.

Not a film critic. We did enjoy the acting, the music and the sets were beautiful! It was entertaining, but it was not Biblical. Mary was not portrayed as God-fearing or humble. Her answer to the angel was not the one in the Bible. Joseph is said to be an inventor??? The ending was totally unscriptural! I felt they presented it in a fairy tale manner.

Proverbs 30:6 — Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

The movie was offensive in it’s distortion of Scripture. It did not come across as respectful of our LORD and Savior. There was no Gospel given at the end, only a disclaimer that they took creative license. I would not recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Vickie Matthews, age 72 (USA)
Negative—This movie borders on blasphemous. It was an absolute disgrace. It is fine, even needed, to give a modern-day version of the biblical tale—no problem there. But there is not ONE shred of evidence in scripture that 1) one of the wise men was a a pink-robed, wig-wearing effeminate homosexual, 2) that Mary was a rebellious feminist with a bad attitude, who wanted a career over marriage, 3) that there were women soldiers guarding Herod, or 4) that Herod’s son wore an alien-like earpiece.

Of course one must be creative bringing any book to the big screen. But bizarre, outright inventions so as to be PC and acceptable to our sick culture are not necessary or acceptable to serious Christians.

This movie obviously had no direction, no agreed sense of how it should play out, what kind of film it would end up being, etc. I was embarrassed to admit I attended it, and will not be telling anyone at church as I am ashamed to have economically supported this hot mess. Again, it was a disgrace of a movie by every measure imaginable and a terrible waste of.

Christian movies have come a LONG way since Bob Jones University tried making them, but as bad as those were, at least they were faithful to the Bible. “Journey to Bethlehem” takes this genre back to BJU days. It is so bad it could only be described as sadly hilarious.

What a wasted chance to present the story seriously and accurately! These people will stand before God and give account of this terrible waste of time, talent, work, and opportunity. There were unsaved people who could have been reached had this been a serious project.

I can readily understand atheists and enemies of Christ who do this kind of thing to the Holy Bible, but it is unimaginable to me that Christians would do this! Hopefully, JTB will die a well-earned quick death and the world will be spared more of this nonsense. There are times I am ashamed to be called a Christian. Sadly, this is one of them. Why would we do this to ourselves?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Oscar (USA)

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