The movie Noah will hit theaters March 28th. The director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount Pictures have been sailing on rough waters, so far, as they have struggled to produce a movie that will please Christian and Jewish viewers as well as everyone else. According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, the director and the studio have different strategies for making movie-goers happy. Their different approaches have caused some serious waves on their journey to completion.
THE ARTSY DIRECTOR – Darren Aronofsky has produced some remarkable films leading up to Noah including The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. His movies have been creative and intense, small budget movies, and mostly critical favorites. Noah is his first big budget movie ($125 million) with big special effects. He told Hollywood Reporter, “We wanted to smash expectations of who Noah is … You’re going to see Russell Crowe as a superhero, a guy who has this incredibly difficult challenge put in front of him and has to overcome it.” Aronofsky also said, “… his goal from the start was to make a Noah for everyone. For non believers, he wanted to create “this fantastical world a la Middle-earth that they wouldn’t expect from their grandmother’s Bible school.” At the same time, he wanted to make a film for those “who take this very, very seriously as gospel.”” Aronofsky is trying to walk a fine line, hoping to please the majority of viewers, religious and non-religious. This attempt at compromise including many creative liberties, seen by early religious screening audiences, has caused some Christians and Paramount executives to question Aronofsky’s vision of Noah.
THE NERVOUS STUDIO – Paramount, on the other hand is going out of its way to please the religious audience, knowing that Christian and Jewish reactions will have a strong bearing on the success or failure of Noah . The studio went as far as re-editing some of Aronofsky’s scenes and reshowing them to religious leaders, hoping they would get a better response. They were disappointed to hear the same number of criticisms and concerns. According to the article, adjustments to the film have been made and both Aronofsky and Paramount are now satisfied with the final version and seem hopeful that they’ve found the right balance of artistic license and story authenticity.
PUBLIC REACTION – All of this early negative publicity is making many Christian and Jewish people unsure about Noah. Do they embrace it and show their support with their dollars, or do they stay away and send the message to stop tampering with our Bible stories? I even saw one website that is warning Christians to stay away and collecting names to show Hollywood how many people are upset.
MY COMMENTS – I am one of the Christian movie-goers who is concerned. But, I say, these pre-release jitters and speculations won’t matter at all after March 28th. It’s my hope that Christians and Jews who are concerned about the retelling of a beloved Bible story will not stay away from the movie because of anything they heard before the movie comes out. We should make our decision based on reviews of the actual movie after it’s been released. Trailers can be deceptive, as can pre-release commentary on news websites. I am concerned about how the religious message will be portrayed, so I’ll be watching Christian review sites like pluggedin.com and movieguide.org to get their take on it. Then I’ll go to rottentomatoes.com to see if it’s any good as a movie, religious content aside.
To my fellow religious movie fans, I want to ask this question; is Noah really the story that we want to get all worked up about? The story really doesn’t contain any essential doctrine of our faith other than God’s judgment on sin. Basically, it’s a true story (yes, I believe every bit of the Bible is true) about a righteous man who obeyed God and accomplished an incredible task. I think we should give Hollywood the liberty to embellish and make it more exciting as long as they can get the basic story right. However, if they change the meaning of the story to mean something else, or if they paint Noah as an idolater and a blasphemer, then I’ll be the first to warn my friends to stay away. So, I am approaching this one carefully, but I am very hopeful. I like the fact that it has a big budget and looks well done. If you’re going to do a Bible story as a movie then try to stay true to the source and give it a big budget and A-list actors and director. Noah has all of that, and potential to be great. Let’s just wait until the movie is actually released before any of us make our final judgment.