Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reel Facts & Opinions: The NOAH Issue

Later this month, director/writer Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark will be released in theatres in the form of NOAH.  As it is with any Bible-story adaptation, Aronofsky’s film has already been met with a fair amount of controversy. Paramount Pictures, in an effort to quell any sort of uproar, has added an explanatory message to the film at the request of the President and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters, Jerry A. Johnson. The message, which also passes as a disclaimer, essentially says that artistic license has been taken with the film, and that it is an adaptation and not line-by-line storytelling. The message will read:
“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.”

The disclaimer, which stops just short of calling Noah’s Ark a true story, is essentially saying that the film is good, but if you want to know the definitive story…go read the book. This is one can of worms that the film industry may not want to mess with. The story of Noah’s Ark is just that; a story. It is a story printed in the most popular, and respected pieces of literature in history…The Bible. Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH is an adaptation of that story. Whether or not Noah’s Ark is fiction or non-fiction is irrelevant; for even historical films are based on some sort of written record.
Movies based on a pre-existing written source is nothing new in the film industry; it has been done for over 100 years. Books, comic-books, graphic novels, video games, plays…all have been used as film adaptations for decades upon decades and will continue to be. If NOAH deserves a disclaimer which immediately discredits its own self, then why not all adaptations? Did the film versions of THE WIZARD OF OZ and GONE WITH THE WIND need an explanatory message telling the viewer that they would be better off reading a book? What’s to stop comic-book fans from demanding a disclaimer in front of the next SPIDER-MAN movie? Paramount’s move has opened the door for thousands of special interest groups to barge in and start dictating content.

Paramount seemed to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. They couldn’t just put up a placecard saying “based on a true story”, and they couldn’t just bluntly say “based on the Biblical story” (Martin Scorsese’s THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST had a similar disclaimer, but that didn’t stop protesters from fire-bombing a theatre in 1988). Paramount’s smartest move would have been to do nothing, and to let the movies do what they do best; tell a story. Audiences are smarter than what studios and special-interest groups think; we know exactly what we are seeing and what we want to see. We should not have our intelligence insulted by being told we just paid to see the wrong story.
What say you?


NOAH opens on March 28th. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky (BLACK SWAN, THE WRESTLER), and stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, and Anthony Hopkins.


1 comment:

  1. Unfortunatly, the disclaimer didn't do any good to quell the uproar among the fundiebots anyway. Why? Probably because it uses the word "inspired."

    To the fundiebots, "inspired" (as in "The Bible is the inspired word of God") means "exactly the same as." (Everything written in the Bible is exactly the same as God said it).

    So, if the movie claims to be "...inspired by the story of Noah," once it's run through the fundiebot filter, it's claiming to be "...the story of Noah exactly the same as described by God in the Bible."

    Any movie made which uses the Bible as a basis for the story has to be exactly as described by God in the Bible. "Artistic license" is not allowed, and is considered "blasphemy."

    Them's the rules.

    The good thing is eventually Hollywood will get the message, and I think rather than having to bow to the demands of the fundiebots which would result in every bit of creativity sucked out of their films, plans for any future films based on stories in the Bible will be shelved.

    I don't consider that to be a bad thing!


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