'Noah' Movie's Atheist Director Stirs Controversy

Monday, 24 Mar 2014 07:51 AM

By James Hirsen

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Paramount Pictures is not scheduled to release “Noah” until March 28, but the big-screen retelling of the biblical text is already fraught with controversy.

Not the least of which surrounds its self-described atheist director, Darren Aranofsky, who used some colorful language when asked about his creation.

As an epic movie, “Noah” would have been viewed as having several built-in marketing advantages, the thinking being that any given studio might easily market to faith-oriented moviegoers while simultaneously attempting to attract fans from the general contemporary film audience. The public routinely flocks to action movies and to films with disaster themes, and the Noah narrative inherently possesses both of these story dynamics.

However, the scriptural account of Noah encompasses only about 2,500 words, which may not be enough material to work with by cinematic standards. A screenwriter adapting the biblical passages for a full-length movie would be required to use literary imagination in order to fashion a larger plot for a feature-length project.

Paramount has reportedly spent more than $130 million on the movie, and studio executives are hoping that the maxim “all publicity is good publicity” is true.

The big-screen undertaking has been banned in Muslim countries, and as a result of some early concerns from Christian organizations it has an extraordinary disclaimer attached to it, which assures potential moviegoers of the following: “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.”

Decision-makers evidently deemed it desirable to refrain from using the G-word and to insert environmental messages into the screenplay as well. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is going to “rile some for the complete omission of the name ‘God’ from the dialogue.”

The entertainment industry publication also expects that the movie will anger “others for its numerous dramatic fabrications and still more for its heavy-handed ecological doomsday messages, which unmistakably mark it as a product of its time.”

The word “God” may not be used in the dialogue, but the movie is theistic rather than atheistic in its overriding philosophy. One of the initial lines of dialogue contained in “Noah” states the following: “The Creator made Adam in his image, then placed the world in his care.”

Paramount has certainly been pursuing the same Christian audience that contributed to the success of “The Passion of the Christ” and more recently, “Son of God.” However, the movie's director, Darren Aranofsky, is in the process of alienating a sizable segment of the film’s potential audience.

Although the focus in the press leading up to the movie’s release has been on the environmental message and the film’s lack of the all-important three-letter word, what is of even greater concern for the studio is a four-letter word that has been flowing from the director’s mouth.

Aronofsky told The New Yorker, “'Noah’ is the least biblical biblical film ever made. I don't give a [expletive] about the test scores. My films are outside the scores.”

Distancing the movie from the good book itself and using profane language does not exactly entice Christians into buying movie tickets. Apparently, Aronofsky is not all that concerned about receiving Christian approval.

The film recently premiered in Mexico City, where the director uttered the F-word once again. According to The Los Angeles Times, Aronofsky greeted the movie audience by saying that “Noah” is “a very, very different movie,” from prior Bible films. “Anything you're expecting, you're [expletive] wrong.”

Rick Warren posted a comment on his Facebook page that may indicate that there are storm clouds overhead relating to the movie’s ultimate fate.

The influential pastor posted, “The Director of new ‘Noah’ movie calls it ‘The LEAST biblical film ever made.’ The director then insulted millions of potential viewers by using the F-word. Thanks for the warning Mr. Director. You just saved me from wasting my money.”

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.

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