In The Star, director Timothy Reckart delivers a highly entertaining, Biblically accurate vision of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas… from the animals’ perspectives. With a roster of Hollywood voices and stunning animation, the story unfolds in a way that the audience sees the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem while also providing hijinks that will delight viewers of all ages. To discuss the film and its potential place in the Christmas movie pantheon, Christian Cinema caught up with the Harvard graduate to discuss his vision for the film.
Coming out of high school, Reckart knew that he wanted to make movies but when he was accepted into Harvard, he knew he had to go. “You can’t say no to Harvard!” he exclaimed with a chuckle. “I knew if I went to film school, I would come out knowing how to make films but I wanted to know what to make films about. So I studied history and literature, not film. I think a liberal arts education gives you a strong ability to write and research, with an education of the soul.”
After the success of the short film Head Over Heels, which Reckart says is ultimately about love continually renewed by action, he finds himself unveiling The Star, a specifically faith-based film.
“I think it will prove ultimately to be an anomaly, but I’m early in my filmmaking career,” he mused. “If I look at the example of Jesus, Jesus didn’t make faith-based chairs and tables, he just made good furniture. I want to explore projects that will be entertaining and uplifting, to make the best films I can.”
To make the feature, Reckart directed Gina Rodriguez, Steve Yeun, Zachary Levi, Keegan-Michael Key, Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, Oprah, Anthony Anderson.. The list goes on. But while the name brand vocals and Jim Henson animation are top of the line in terms of production, Reckart didn’t dodge the Biblical story of how God’s one and only Son was born as a baby in a manger under mysterious circumstances as foretold by angels.
“We were trying to tell the Christmas story and entertain people who approached it from a wide spectrum of understanding the story,” Reckart shared. “There hasn’t been a Christmas classic that tells the true story of the birth of Christ, while movies like It’s a Wonderful Life do a great job of sharing the Christmas spirit. We wanted to be faithful to the story of Jesus while also being a comedy, adventure, and suspenseful.”
“We didn’t want to tell it in a way that downplayed Mary and Joseph’s experience, so telling it from the animals’ perspective allowed us to open up a wedge that hadn’t been used before. What did the camel see? The donkey? Seeing it from an outside perspective allows a wide spectrum of people to appreciate the story about a donkey who wants to do great things, and other characters who journey.”
In the context of Mary and Joseph’s journey, along with animals like donkeys, camels, and pigeons, there’s a special swathe of the story cut out for a pair of villainous characters to see Christmas unfold. In this arc of the story, Reckart wanted to show that the arrival of the Son of God into the world would change things, that there was transformative power there. “We wanted to show that the arrival of Jesus meant something,” he shared. “We wanted to show that the miracle of Jesus on screen allows change to occur in the characters.”
“The Christian life is a series of falling and getting back up, right? So we’re never finished reforming ourselves but we have to answer a true call to repentance.”
The Star will entertain and inspire, and possibly end up on your annual Christmas must-see list. If so, Tim Reckart will have succeeded, and moved to the top of the class.