Biblical Scale

Will Noah Get Christians to Theaters? Or Create a Backlash?


Months before it hits theaters, director Darren Aronofsky’s telling of the Biblical story of Noah is flooded with controversy. The film—with Russell Crowe as Noah—has been screened for several test groups of Christians, Jews, and general audiences, with the mixed results of those sessions creating a rift between Paramount Pictures and the director of such critical successes as Black Swan, The Wrestler, and Requiem for a Dream, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film is scheduled for a March release.
 

“I saw water. Death by water,” Crowe says in the official Noah trailer, released Nov. 14. “And I saw new life.” He may also see a backlash from some Christians who consider the film to be a liberal’s recast of the story to push an environmental political agenda. In a blog post called “Darren Aronofsky’s Noah: Environmentalist Wacko,” screenwriter Brian Godawa wrote last year that he had read an undated version of the film’s script and was posting his lengthy critique because “it’s never too late to right a ship that is heading in the wrong direction.”

“If you were expecting a Biblically faithful retelling of the story of the greatest mariner in history and a tale of redemption and obedience to God, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Noah paints the primeval world of Genesis 6 as scorched arid desert, dry cracked earth, and a gray gloomy sky that gives no rain—and all this, caused by man’s “disrespect” for the environment. In short, an anachronistic doomsday scenario of ancient global warming. How Neolithic man was able to cause such anthropogenic catastrophic climate change without the ‘evil’ carbon emissions of modern industrial revolution is not explained. Nevertheless, humanity wanders the land in nomadic warrior tribes killing animals for food or wasteful trophies.”

Aronofsky’s Brooklyn-based Protozoa Pictures referred calls Friday for comment to his publicist, who did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A Paramount Pictures spokesman also did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore told the Hollywood Reporter that the film—which is heavily laden with visual effects—was expected to be complex and that the studio “allowed for a very long postproduction period, which allowed for a lot of test screenings.” The movie—which also stars Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins—has surpassed its $125 million budget, according to reports. “We’re getting to a very good place, and we’re getting there with Darren,” Moore told the newspaper.

Bachman is an associate editor for Businessweek.com.

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