Christians, Studio Battled Over Making of Coming Movie 'Noah'

Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 02:27 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The making of "Noah," a soon-to-be released Hollywood epic with Russell Crowe, had a rocky start when the film's production company got critical feedback from Christian viewers about the story's accuracy according to the Bible.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount Pictures, concerned that the $125 million movie could alienate faith-based viewers, considered altering the film and insisted on conducting test screenings with major Christian organizations while the movie was in production, despite vehement objections by director Darren Aronofsky.

"I had no problem completely honoring and respecting everything in the Bible and accepting it as truth," said Aronofsky, who was raised in a conservative Jewish household and insisted on pursuing his version.

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Aronofsky said his goal from the beginning was to make an accurate movie that appeals to all audiences. For nonbelievers, he said, he wanted to create "this fantastical world Ă  la Middle Earth, that they wouldn't expect from their grandmother's Bible school." At the same time, he said, he wanted to make a film for those "who take this very, very seriously as Gospel."

Still, some Christians who saw previews questioned the film's adherence to the Bible and had a negative reaction to the intensity and darkness of the lead character.

One viewer who declined to be named echoed the sentiments of those criticizing the depiction of Noah as a "crazy, irrational, religious nut" who is fixated on modern-day problems like overpopulation and environmental degradation, according to The Reporter.

Some were also unhappy that Aronofsky's Noah gets drunk in a cave after being back on land after the flood, a detail that is in the Bible but that many in the test audience did not remember or were never taught.

Aronofsky's version ultimately prevailed, and the rift with the studio is behind them, according to The Reporter, but both acknowledge that the film could nevertheless draw criticism from some Christian viewers.

Paramount's vice chairman, Rob Moore, said there continues to be the worry that "significantly conservative folks who have a more literal expectation" from the movie might turn against it and become hostile."

"There are some people where it's a very emotional experience of, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa — a Hollywood studio is trying to tell a story from my faith, and I am skeptical,'" Moore said. "Not necessarily 50 percent of the people, but maybe 10 or 20 percent. And those people can be very noisy."

He added, "Our anticipation is that the vast majority of the Christian community will embrace it."

For his part, Aronofsky thinks the film will succeed among Christian audiences.

"For the people who are literal-minded, it would be great to communicate that the themes of the film are very much in line with the themes of the Bible: ideas about hope, second chances, and family," he said. "If they allow that, they're going to have an incredible experience with the movie. If they don't allow it, it's theirs to lose."

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