Darren Aronofsky, the film-maker responsible for Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Black Swan, has decided to take it on himself to tell the biblical story of Noah. The movie isn’t even out yet, and it’s already sparking some negative reactions from Jews, Christians… and everyone else.
Already exceeding the originally large budget, Aronofsky’s retelling of Noah is intended to portray the biblical patriarch as, in his own words, “the world’s first environmentalist.” I would imagine then, that the cataclysmic destruction of the earth becomes a consequence of irresponsible resource management rather than a divine judgment for human sin and violence.
It has puzzled some why Aronofsky, clearly not a Christian, would choose biblical history as the subject matter for his next film. I don’t think “For the money” answers that question. Aronofsky is an idealist and a film purist. Like Christopher Nolan, he is an independent film-maker that has been snatched up by the bigger studios because his early more esoteric works have gained a huge following. But Aronofsky must have his own reasons for doing this film.
I suspect Aronofsky chose this story because he knew he could get “conservatives” to watch it, and then he would have a captive audience to deliver his message. Lure them in with the hope of a good Bible story, then beat them over the head with environmentalism. In one screening, perhaps he could cure all the “flat earth” “climate change deniers” of their superstitious ignorance, and, most gratifyingly, he would use their holy text to do it. Brilliant!
That would certainly make sense, but who knows. Paramount is keeping this one fairly close to their treasure chest, since it has so much potential to backfire on them. If word spreads that this movie trans-appropriates and distorts the biblical message, Paramount could be looking at an epic flop of biblical proportions. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Already, test screenings have not gone well. Jews in a New York test audience, Christians in an Arizona test audience, and a general audience from California all had major gripes with the film. We haven’t been told what those gripes are, and I imagine all the members of the test screen audience signed a “gag order” form prior to viewing. But it seems likely that this film (at least in its current form) falls exactly in between audiences.
On the one hand, non-Christians may not care all that much about a movie that takes biblical history seriously (this isn’t the 50s anymore after all). And they may have also taken issue with the fact that Aronofsky’s version “lets God off the hook.” If the environmental cataclysm is the result of “amoral” environmental improprieties rather than immoral sins, then the world-wide flood isn’t even an act of God. It’s just a natural event. Jews and Christians would obviously be troubled by the obvious freedoms Aronofsky is taking with the text.
The studio is committed to making money. So they are, apparently under Aronofsky’s supervision, creating a cut of the film that tests better with the target audience. Whether that will work out in the end, or be true to anyone’s vision of the biblical story, is yet to be seen.
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