Noah movie dispute called an “unholy mess”

A core idea of this argument – accurate portrayal of the Bible – breaks my brain. What do YOU think?

‘Noah:’ Faith-based group, Paramount in biblical battle – latimes.com.

Paramount has taken the unusual step of issuing a press release debunking a survey and a resultant Variety story about the faith-based community’s skepticism for the studio’s upcoming tentpole “Noah.” In a fittingly biblical turn, the drama was upped when the group fired back. But neither side seems to be reading entirely from a good book.

Here’s the back story: On Monday a group called Faith Driven Consumers released a study about the March 28-opening Darren Aronofsky film starring Russell Crowe, noting that “Noah faces rough seas.” It cited a figure of 98% of respondents who said that they were “not satisfied” by Hollywood movies with biblical plotlines, specifically mentioning “Noah” in the release.

But Paramount disputed the survey and it’s results. FDC stood by their results. The article notes that many religious people may be very wary of Hollywood productions of Biblical tales (maybe they sensationalize it too much). We’re left wondering why we don’t see more Old Testament tales literally produced for the screen. Oh wait, I bet I can guess why.

OK, I’ve been too snarkastic. I’m not a fan of Biblical movies or the book they are based upon but as the author of this LA Times piece notes, why is this a dispute now? Wait until the movie comes out in order to see. Or are they banking on the religious audiences to go instead of their cast of stars?

IMDB: Noah
noah poster

  27 comments for “Noah movie dispute called an “unholy mess”

  1. February 19, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Compared to the “Persecution” films that are set to be released this year, “Noah” will probably rank as tame in comparison when we look at how sensationalized biblical films can be.

  2. Haldurson
    February 19, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    Controversy tends to be good for the movie business. But it is silly. When I go to see a film that’s based on something else, whether that’s a literary source, a myth, history or a newspaper article., I never expect a film to be completely faithful to the source material anyway. Whether it’s because of poetic license, or the fact that some things that may work in a book don’t necessarily look good directly translated to the screen or because the filmmakers are simply trying to give their own interpretation of a story. Movies have to be seen as separate entities than their source material, period.

    That said, particularly with a biblical story, there’s no surprise that people will be unhappy regardless of how faithful it is to the book. The bible may have been the height of literary excellence back when it was first written, but it hardly makes an engaging read today. If not for the faithful, I don’t think you could get it published. To turn the Noah story into a full-length film pretty much REQUIRES changes and filling in the blanks from ones imagination, simply because as written, there’s not enough there to fill in 80 minutes (maybe a half hour at best). So there’s no way it’s going to make everyone happy because the bulk of it won’t be biblical.

  3. Sam
    February 19, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    “The faith-based community is inherently skeptical about Hollywood adaptations…”

    Now if only they could…

  4. terry the censor
    February 19, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    Poster makes me think of the Thor movies. Is Hopkins playing God in this one too?

  5. spookyparadigm
    February 19, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    “Or are they banking on the religious audiences”

    My understanding is that yes, they did indeed intend this film to exploit religious audiences, and more specifically to use existing religious networks (as was done with Chronicles of Narnia, and other religiously-oriented films made by major studios) to market it. It is reminiscent of the heavy courting of geek networks in marketing known franchises (see ComicCon hype machines etc.), though they aren’t generally held so seriously by most people. Nor do they give me the same sense of schadenfreude when they fail.

    • Rex Dart
      February 20, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      “[W]hy is this a dispute now? Wait until the movie comes out in order to see. ”

      Condemning movies you haven’t seen is also an extremely common aspect of geek networks. To take just one example, comic book fans were outraged at the “obvious” fact that the studio wasn’t taking Batman seriously when it chose a director most famous for “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” and cast an actor best known as Beetlejuice or “Mr. Mom” as Batman for the 1989 film.

      An extreme example, but many geek-targeted films get similar chatter based on their perceived flaws long before their release. Religious issues aside, it’s not at all odd for fans of a beloved story to get worked up if they feel it’s not being treated right in adaptation.

      Personally, I’m most curious about how, in a movie that appears to be very “realistic” visually, they’re going to handle the problems with the story that are obvious even to young children. How do you possibly get all those animals on the ark and handle the various implicit logistic problems? Does Yahweh show Noah how to include a TARDIS as part of the Ark, for instance?

  6. Chris Howard
    February 19, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    I can’t wait to see the Hollywood version of the story where God sends two bears to kill forty-two children, for making fun of a bald guy!

    I wonder who they’ll get to play the bald guy? I hope its Nathan Lane!

    • February 20, 2014 at 12:21 AM

      That’s one of my favorite biblical stories! In fact, I wrote a sort of biblical exegesis of 2 Kings 2 called “Never taunt a bald guy who has God’s ear” at http://jveeds.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/never-taunt-a-bald-guy-who-has-god%E2%80%99s-ear/

    • Jack
      February 20, 2014 at 7:42 AM

      Is this the prequel to Waterworld? Sounds just as bad. I would like to see Bruce Willis play the bald guy with Da Bears.

    • busterggi
      February 20, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      Nah, Sean Connery!

  7. February 20, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Hmm. Received an insider tip that churches ask for a “donation” in exchange for not protesting a project. Wonder if this works the same for movies. I’d suspect it does. Scumbaggery.

    • February 20, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      The Right Reverends Doug and Dinsdale Piranha?

  8. Adam
    February 20, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    I’m pretty certain they’ll pitch this drivel at religious audiences. Anyway, the best biblical epic was The Life of Brian.

    • February 20, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      I recall hearing the church HATED that but yet it was a brilliant success.

      • Rex Dart
        February 20, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        One of my suite-mates in college was a very devout Christian and Religious Studies major (and went on to become a pastor). We watched Life of Brian in the suite one night and he absolutely LOVED it.

        • lawn
          February 20, 2014 at 4:33 PM

          A minister friend of mine says that Life of Brian is his all-time favorite movie. Come to think of it, if more religious leaders were cool like him (and your friend) we’d have a whole lot fewer annoying problems.

      • February 20, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        “Life Of Brian” was BANNED in Norway for like 2 years because of blasphemy. Sweden thought we were idiots so they advertised the movie as “So funny it was banned in Norway”. Which is kinda weird, because these days we’d probably be among the first people to show a movie like that and defend it.

        You also really ought to check out some of those old interviews with Monty Python and priests on BBC on youtube.

      • Adam
        February 21, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        Yup it was banned in bits of the UK (apparently local councils had the final say), Ireland and other places. I recall some Welsh town lifting the ban a few years back as a formality long after it ceased to matter. The funny thing was that the film treated Jesus fairly respectfully throughout although it skewered religious institutions and I suspect that’s what they took offence at.

    • brian
      February 20, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      now that was a movie fit for jehova!

  9. Cathy
    February 20, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    Is a happy comment line turning to Monty Python’s Life of Brian the complimentary opposite, for want of a better way to express it, of arguements descending to the depths of raising Hitler and the Nazis?

    • RandyMan
      February 21, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      Speaking of Monty Python, does anyone else think “Faith Based Consumers” sounds a lot like Brazil’s “Consumers For Christ”? Do they know how ridiculous (and non-biblically materialistic) they sound?

      Terry Gilliam’s Brazil nailed it:

      Sharon, this story breaks my brain too. The spectacle of religious groups & entertainment corporations heatedly arguing over the “correct” portrayal of an entirely fictional myth (Noah) raises the bar of cognitive dissonance & absurdity to a new level. This is like debating which version of Snow White is the most “accurate”. Grumpy & Bashful are grossly misrepresented! Death to the infidels!

    • David H
      February 22, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      Reductio ad Pythonium?

      • Chris Howard
        February 22, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        At least under Pythonium rule the trains ran on time! ;-)

  10. Chris Howard
    February 22, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    “So funny it was banned in Norway”

    And the say the Swedes are dour? ;-)

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