Religion in Film: Noah Attempts to Appeal to Christians and Nonbelievers Alike

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 12.16.27 PMDirector Darren Aronofsky is hoping to make believers out of all of us — at least in terms of box office success.

His huge budget movie, Noah, inspired by the Bible story, premieres March 28 starring Russell Crowe as the Old Testament prophet, er, lead.

In order to make bank, Aronofsky (along with Paramount) is hoping to capture the good will and imagination of Christian audiences as well as nonbelievers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: 

“Aronofsky, who grew up in a conservative Jewish household, says his goal from the start was to make a Noah for everyone. For nonbelievers, 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.'”

As someone who takes the story of Noah very, very seriously as gospel, I look forward to seeing the movie. As long as the subject matter is approached thoughtfully, I’m interested in Aronofsky’s interpretation of the Bible story I grew up with.

Darren Aronofsky and Paramount have approached the project with a great deal of thought. They even hired a faith-based consultant to get pastors and other church leaders on board (did that on purpose) with the movie. Did you have any idea this kind of behind-the-scenes lobbying went on to acquire the good faith (did that on purpose) of church leaders? And Paramount insisted on multiple test screenings (against Aronofsky’s wishes) to make sure religious audiences were comfortable with the story. What a fascinating process.

One of their concerns is that Christians will have a problem with the inaccuracy of the film. Paramount Vice chair Rob Moore said, “[The film] is more an exploration of Noah’s emotional journey than a literal interpretation of the Bible story. Christian viewers might reject it for its inaccuracy in depicting the story of the flood from Genesis, but [we’re] hoping they will embrace it.”

So far, several faiths have come out (did that on purpose) in support of Noah. One church leader said: “If you’re expecting it to be word for word from the Bible, you’re in for a shock. There can be an opportunity for Christians to take offense. [But] we were pretty excited that a studio like Paramount would invest in a Bible-themed movie.”

After a screening in Sydney on Feb. 4, another church leader joked, “You’ll enjoy the film — if you’re not too religious.”

Only time and ticket sales will tell if Aronofsky hit the sweet spot between faith and unbelief. Whether or not the film flops, I appreciate the respectful approach Aronofsky has taken. He says, “I had no problem completely honoring and respecting everything in the Bible and accepting it as truth.” When it came time to design the ark his production designer made suggestions for what it should look like, but Aronosfsky shot him down. “No,” he said, “the measurements are right there.”

That’s right! Noah’s ark is described in Genesis as 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits tall. I have a feeling the special effects that set that boat afloat are going to be worth it, even if Aronofsky does take a little license with the story.

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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