'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."
I read a quip a long time ago that the "known pieces of the true cross" would have supplied enough wood for all the ties used in the first US Transcontinental Railroad.
And, anyone who has ever had to deal with one cat box that hasn't been cleaned in a couple of days knows that the liquid waste can produce toxic amounts of ammonia fumes.
And trying to sanitize it with chlorine bleach can be lethal. NEVER do that! Wash with laundry soap, or liquid dish soap, and then rinse with a solution of H. peroxide & warm water. Lysol is lethal, too; cats ingest it when they clean their paws.
Noah and his small family would have been feeding, watering and cleaning 24-7. Without the benefit of any type of modern cleaning materials. (Where would they have dumped the poop out of the ark? The 22" x 22" window was in the effing ROOF!) How did they even clean up after themselves?
I think reading that tale in its entirety, and thinking about it in terms of animal care that I knew about, prodded me faster along the path to disbelief. (I was already horrified at the idea of drowning everything, even the obvious innocents.)
See? Carl has his fictional facts correct! :)
right - very good
I love that comment.
No, that's the New Pesterment. They tried to pester us a lot in the Old Pesterment. Then they gave us the New Pesterment.
Ha Ha Pesterment! :)
I'm repeating here but Seth McFarlane's charactor, Roger the alien, said it best in an episode of American Dad.
Christianity is my favorite. That's where god got this young girl pregnant and then he dissappeared. Later when the kid was born and he became popular, god wanted him to come live with him.
Now I understand better. Thank you for the clarification.
I like Harlan Ellison's version in "The Deathbird & Other Stories:" our Solar System is an asylum for mentally ill gods; Earth is YHWH's Occupational therapy project...and he has messed it up badly, proving he is still sadistic/violent/irrational.
Have you ever read Merlin Stone's book, When God Was a Woman? There seems to be a great deal of archaeological evidence that the primary creator for more than 20,000 years was a goddess, UNTIL Anatolia and eventually the entire Eastern Med areas were conquered by waves of invasions by bigger, stronger Indo-Aryans from the North. (The goddess had a smaller, less powerful consort/son/lover. Similar to Isis and Osiris.) The conquerors had a single, violent, mountain-dwelling, male storm god who was, among other things, anti-woman and anti-sex.
Goddess worship was not completely stamped out in the area until the 5th Century C.E., by the Catholic Crutch. It is still alive in remote parts of Southern India.
Does anybody wonder what Y did on the eighth day? Order up a holy barbecue? Or was that part of the seventh day activities?