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Dallas Jenkins gives his ‘unfiltered thoughts’ about ‘Journey to Bethlehem’

Adam Anders of Glee fame is responsible for adapting the nativity story into a musical

SHARE Dallas Jenkins gives his ‘unfiltered thoughts’ about ‘Journey to Bethlehem’
Dallas Jenkins gives an interview.

Dallas Jenkin, creator, producer, writer and director of “The Chosen,” talks to news media at the Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian, Texas, on Aug. 15, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

“I have to be honest, I was a little skeptical,” Dallas Jenkins, the creator and director of “The Chosen” said as he filmed himself out for a walk in Canada. Jenkins had just seen “The Journey to Bethlehem,” a musical about the story of Jesus’ birth.

Since its release, “Journey to Bethlehem” grossed more than $5 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Even though Jenkins was skeptical, he said in a video posted on Instagram that it was “important” to go see the movie.

“We need the ability to cover these beautiful stories in multiple ways,” Jenkins explained. “It seems like everyone else gets to cover all the different stories, historical, fiction or otherwise in multiple formats: musicals, dramas, comedy films, horrors, whatever. And we sometimes limit ourselves to just playing it safe.”

Jenkins said that “Journey to Bethlehem” is adapting the scripture to screen in a respectful and creative way. He described the music and acting as “fantastic.”

Though he enjoyed the movie, Jenkins pointed out that some Catholics may not appreciate the portrayal of Mary and Joseph because of deviations from tradition.

One reviewer, John Mulderig for the Catholic Standard, wrote, “Regrettably, for those listening closely, the lyrics perpetuate the widespread confusion between the virginal conception of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The former miraculous circumstance, moreover, and the plight in which it places the mother-to-be while, of course, essential to the plot — might prompt pesky questions from little ones.”

The Immaculate Conception of Mary in Catholic theology refers to the belief that Mary was conceived without sin. It’s commonly confused with the idea that Jesus was born without sin. After Mulderig noted that the film presented a confusing portrayal of this idea, he also wrote in his review that the movie was “perfect fare for a wide range of age groups and just about the whole family.”

“These stories are important. We have to take chances with this in a reverent way, in a respectful way and know that it’s going to work,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins also referred to the faith of the filmmakers, saying that he knows them as people who love Jesus and have an appreciation of the story.

In an interview with the Deseret News, the film’s director Adam Anders said, “It’s a true story for me. It’s part of my life and my faith. And it means so much to me. So, I hope that comes across in the movie, even though we’re having fun with it.”

One of his goals in making “Journey to Bethlehem” was to make a “fun and vibrant film” while respecting the story. “I want it to be my story book Bible as a kid come to life, so kids will be engaged the whole time and lean in and want to watch this over and over again and see what Christmas is about,” Anders told Movieguide.

Jenkins concluded his Instagram video by encouraging his audience to see the movie.

“These things need to be successful so we can do more of them,” Jenkins said. “... Look, this is a challenging thing: taking the stories of the Bible and putting them on film in unique ways. As you know, I can speak from experience: it is not easy. And it is not easy to face criticism from people who haven’t seen it or who saw one clip and just wrote it off altogether.”

“... The industry needs to know that Bible stories told by people who love Bible stories can succeed,” he concluded.

“Journey to Bethlehem” was released Nov. 10 and is still playing in some theaters.