'Noah' hits rough religious waters on-screen
Thoughts on religious controversy on the Noah movie?
Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah' has found ardent admirers and louder religious criticism before its March 28 opening. Will it survive the storms at the box office?
Director Darren Aronofsky has seen his share of controversy in a body of work that has included uncompromising films such as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan.
But there hasn't been anything quite like the storm that has erupted over his treatment of the Old Testament tale featured in Noah, out Friday. The maelstrom has battle-tested studio heads reaching for appropriate biblical comparisons.
"It's been a unique journey," says Rob Moore, vice chairman of distributor Paramount Studios. "I actually feel like some combination of Noah preparing for the storm, or Joseph, where you feel like you're in some foreign land and you're trying to figure out how to make it all work."
The story of Noah's construction of a massive ark to save Earth's animals from God's flood-borne wrath is sacred text in the Koran and the Bible, and is one of the most popular stories with children.
Yet no filmmaker has fully taken on the tale for Hollywood until Aronofsky's quest, which actually started when, as a 13-year-old student, he won an award for his poem about the tale. It continued to inspire him as an adult.
"It seems strange to me that one of the greatest stories ever told had never been made into a feature film," says Aronofsky, 45. "In some ways I have been working on this for 32 years. When I first pitched the film, I didn't think there would be much controversy.''
He was wrong on that last point. Noah, which stars Russell Crowe in the title role, along with Jennifer Connelly (as Naameh) and Anthony Hopkins (Methuselah), has become a lightning rod. Aronofsky and screenwriter partner Ari Handel's leaked script was first called out by a movie blogger in October 2012 for depicting Noah as an "environmental wacko."
Aronofsky insists the comments refer to an old draft of the script. But criticism of Noah's depiction and the environmental themes, has continued.
Representatives of Muslim-dominated Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Indonesia have made clear their countries will not distribute the film. Conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck, who initially criticized the film based on a review that he read, saw Noah over the weekend.
"It was awful," Beck said on his radio show Monday, calling it "pro-animal" and "strongly anti-human."
Paramount has worked with religious organizations such as the American Bible Society After viewing the film, chief communications officer Geoffrey Morin urged debate about the topic "and digging into God's word for yourself" in a positive op-ed piece in USA TODAY.
After discussions with members of the National Religious Broadcasters, Paramount and the NRB made a joint announcement in February to change Noah'smarketing materials to stress that it was an interpretation of the biblical story. "The film is inspired by the story of Noah," the marketing wording now reads. "The Biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis."
NRB President Jerry Johnson posed the all-important question in a series of articles on the organization's website: Should Christians organize churches to see Noah, or boycott it?
While taking issue with some of Aronofsky's vision, Johnson wrote many would "enjoy" the "quality production."
"Most importantly, you can have healthy gospel discussions about some of the positives, and even the negatives," Johnson wrote. He also made clear it was not a "buy up a block of tickets" moment for churches.
How will the controversy play out at the box office? Movie industry publication Variety reported robust tracking at $35 million-plus for this weekend. Further, Noah opened strong last Friday in South Korea and in heavily Catholic Mexico ($1.4 million, matching Gravity's opening in the market).
Former ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, have also seen the film and praised the educational possibilities it presents.
Rodriguez says Noah "occupies positive space" even if it deviates from the Scripture.
"There were elements that made me feel uncomfortable. I won't deny that," says Rodriguez. "But I will have no hesitation recommending it to my churches. This is not Noah 101 from the book of Genesis. But it's a pro-faith movie, a pro-God movie, a pro-family movie. Without a doubt."
No Mrs. Yahweh or little ones? Maybe he's gay?
Those believers blame everything on all kinds of nonsense - it is so sad.
he's not mine!!!! lol
If Saul of Tsuris is correct (of course he's NOT!), Y is against any sort of sex, gay, straight, bi, whatever; except to make more fuel for the fires of hell.
"...but he loves you! And he needs money...." George Carlin
You know it Felaine!
One question to ask confrontational theists is if their god is male, does "he" have male genitalia. If they say "yes" ask them "What for?"
Either question will shut them up, and/or send them looking for another victim.
I enjoy good science fiction movies and even some tall-tales movies, however, I don't plan on seeing this movie.
Hearing it's a "pro-faith movie, a pro-God movie, a pro-family movie. Without a doubt.", confirms what I thought it would be, and it would just upset me.
I think I may go see it. Hearing how it has pissed off the Christians and Muslims is only one small reason. Yes, I know it's a fairy story, based on the biblical fairy story, which was based upon one of mankind's first recorded heroic poems in ancient Sumeria. The Epic of Gilgamesh. I'm sure it's not true to the Sumerian version any more than the later Hebrew version.
Then again, I know that Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings, and The Thing From Another Planet are made up stories, also. It's a way to kill two hours with what actually might be something entertaining - in a temporary suspension of disbelief sort of way. And, if I walk out disappointed or pissed off, it won't be the first movie that's ever let me down, and probably not the last.
The director Aronofsky is an atheist. And, he's done some good work in the past. I'll give it a shot for the afternoon discount admission price.
I figure if one movie can thoroughly piss off three disparate groups who are antithetical to each other - Christians, Muslims, AND Atheists - I've got to check it out!