This film is part of Free

Christmas Play

Taking the lid off the creative process - of a group of theatrically-minded 11-year-olds as they stage the nativity.

1959 18 mins


The mischievous participants of this traditional nativity play give it an unusual charm. Amateur director Hazel Swift avoids cloying sentimentality, aiming instead to capture the "electrifying ideal" of creating art. In stark contrast to this progressive atmosphere is the teacher who smilingly blacks a young actor's face for his role as one of the Wise Men - placing the film squarely in its pre-multiculturalist era.

Produced with support from the BFI's Experimental Film Fund, the film marked Swift's first time behind the camera, and her artistic ambitions were relatively grand for such a modest subject. She did acknowledge that the theme of creative production was "so hidden under the straightforward 'play' theme that nobody could possibly be expected to recognise it". Nonetheless, the restrained narration and inventive score by Gordon Jacob lend the film an expressiveness and sense of Yuletide magic.