As of late, Biblical stories have gained a rising interest as source material for major productions on both television and the big screen. With the recent success of The Bible miniseries, a handful of high-dollar projects have been announced that will place popular Old Testament stories on center stage in the coming years. Each of these have earned huge budgets along with notable actors/directors.
(Anybody heard of Christian Bale and Terrence Malik????)
The first of these to hit theaters is Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming epic (and fairly controversial) adaptation of the story of Noah and the great flood, which will open in March of next year. With an A-list director running a cast composed of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Emma Watson, among others, it has all the makings of a well-rounded film.
After watching the brief trailer, I had a couple of thoughts. First of all, it looks incredible. Word is that the crew burned through over $125 million dollars in production so that shouldn’t be a surprise. Obviously, some creative licenses were taken as the additions of Methuselah, a nomadic king, and an epic battle scene are nowhere to be found in the actual Biblical tale. But for the most part, the trailer depicts a decently accurate picture of Noah. I quite like Crowe’s convicted yet somber reply to his barbarian counterpart when he says, “I am not alone.” Good stuff.
My other thought was this: what does the rest of it look like? A two-minute teaser leaves a lot in the shadows. What story does the film actually tell? Some of the supposed controversy has come from criticism that it strays too far from the actual Biblical story. Again, no surprise there. But one famous screenwriter who had an opportunity to read an early version of the script went so far as to indict its protagonist as an “environmentalist whacko.” His claim is that the film twists Noah’s character into a propagandist diatribe against humanity’s cruelty to nature. The wrath of God comes in response, not to mankind’s increasing sinfulness, but to its rejection of responsible ecology. God exempts Noah from His worldwide penalty because he is absent of these uncaring qualities and strives to manage the earth beneficially.
You can read his entire review of the script here.
If I’m honest, I expect something along these lines. More likely than not, God will be portrayed as some ethereal, mystical voice and Noah, a responsible man of faith, will be the real hero of the film – one who saves his family and stands up to the bad guys in his convictions with the help of some whispering, impersonal god-force filling his sails.
But I’d love to be proved wrong.
Regardless of how it turns out, I’m excited to see the Bible this way. I’m an Aronofsky fan and of those films of his I have seen, I consider them quite beautiful. If nothing else, this film’s release will place Scripture into the culture’s vernacular while serving as a platform to engage in discussion.
While the film may mislead by taking unnecessary creative liberties and injecting alien themes into its plot, it has already become a subject of headlines and Christ will be spoken, even if only in criticism of its message.
I can’t help but believe that is a good thing.