'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."
That would be Forrest Gump, Joan ... a long-time fave of mine.
But it DID, right down to the screwy-looking guy in the beard in Victory Lane at the end of the last race! About all Speed Racer lacked was the stilted dialog!
FA, what you posted here would make a great movie. Speed Racer Meets Plan 9 From Outer Space. With the lead role being played by Glen or Glenda.
I proudly admit that I own the DVD of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Exactly Deidre! The fundies are saying the film isn't accurate. That just cracks me up!
Did Noah take any fish on board that big boat? If all the world was being destroyed because of "sin" and all the animals had to be saved, what about the fish? If the answer was that they would live in the water anyway, so no need of saving them, you have successfully brought "old world sin" into your "new world sin." This may even be true if applied to Noah and his family as well. If this was all true, then what was the point of destroying the world by water in the first place? It makes no sense. You have the exact same thing all over again!
I won't be seeing this movie even when it comes out on DVD. It's stupid, and I no longer can tolerate the supernatural of any kind.
That brings the poser about: "What happened to the FRESH-water fish?!?" Did Noah have a couple 10,000-gallon aquaria on board? Or maybe Mohammed was right about salt- and fresh-water not mixing...
[groan!] And if you believe THAT one...!
I had thought that the salt water would have been diluted by all the rain, and the salt water fish and mammals would have suffered (horribly!) and died, too.
THIS is what puzzles/bothers me: "... and is one of the most popular stories with children."
WHY do children love that story? Because the way it's been told, the emphasis is on saving animals. Even the late Gretchen Wyler named her legacy to animal rescue "The Ark Trust," and the awards to people and organizations that expose animal cruelty, among other things "The Genesis Awards." so otherwise kind and thoughtful people have been duped, and continue to be duped, by the way the myth is passed down.
Of course NO Sunday school teacher, or xian book publisher, would have the honesty to remind children that YHWH murdered everything on the planet, except the few in that boxy, unventilated "boat." Including all plant life (where did that silly olive branch come from?)...and babies, their pets, people who helped Noah build the ark...etc.
Maybe someday a truly honest film, or series of films, will be made called "Killer God" ...dramatizing ALL of YHWH's UNholy massacres over the ages...including that of his so-called son.
Now that's a movie I'd watch Felaine. " Killer God". Great title!
It would appeal to the younger set who seem to like that kind of merde. T'would also make a hot video game; you could choose to play the part of the god, or an opponent trying to stop him/her/it.