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Can Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” Survive a Flood of Criticism?


Fans of any book series go to see the movie in order to critique one major point: “Did they get the details of the story right?” Imagine that argument multiplied by every member of every faith that puts stock in the story of Noah’s Ark (Christians, Muslims, Jews), and you’re aiming for a big conversation.

Noah, opening in theaters tomorrow, is “the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope,” starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins. It is directed by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, whose last picture, Black Swan, raked in $330 million.

In response to criticism, Paramount has already decided to attach the following disclaimer on all future promotions:

“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”

Combine this with the fact that director Darren Aronofsky is a self-described atheist, and we can see why those who are looking for an accurate depiction of the Biblical story are leaving theaters sorely disappointed.  Early critics have had so much to say that the film has gone under multiple re-cuts in an attempt to appeal to faith driven audiences.

One major criticism that the film is receiving from early audiences is that the film is overrun with a message of environmentalism.  This should be an expected point of criticism considering Bible film’s predictably more conservative core audience.    However, some Christians don’t appreciate the film for broader reasons.  Glenn Beck called it the “Babylonian Chainsaw Massacre.”

That being said, Paramount has found several religious leaders who actually celebrate the film’s artistic influences and consider the film a useful starting point for introducing non-believers to the Bible.

Just today, a review in TIME declared Noah one of the top three movies so far this year.

This level of attention is nothing new for faith based films.  Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ received similar scrutiny upon its release. Websites are dedicated specifically to fact-checking the movie against the Bible and comparing it to Gibson’s Catholic roots. Regardless, the movie maintains an 80% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Simply put, people enjoyed Passion of the Christ as a movie, even though it had a few flaws in accuracy.

Among this year’s slew of Bible films, Noah is starting behind in terms of accuracy.  If you want a retelling of the story in the Bible, the consensus seems to be to reread Genesis 6. If you’re looking for something fun to do on a Friday night, then Noah’s $130 million budget and A-list cast just might entertain.


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