About those rough religious waters for the 'Noah' movie

A USA Today headline declares:

'Noah' hits rough religious waters on-screen

The top of the story:

Director Darren Aronofsky has seen his share of controversy in a body of work that has included uncompromising films such as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan.

But there hasn't been anything quite like the storm that has erupted over his treatment of the Old Testament tale featured in Noah, out Friday. The maelstrom has battle-tested studio heads reaching for appropriate biblical comparisons.

"It's been a unique journey," says Rob Moore, vice chairman of distributor Paramount Studios. "I actually feel like some combination of Noah preparing for the storm, or Joseph, where you feel like you're in some foreign land and you're trying to figure out how to make it all work."

The story of Noah's construction of a massive ark to save Earth's animals from God's flood-borne wrath is sacred text in the Koran and the Bible, and is one of the most popular stories with children.

Keep reading, and the concise report references concerns about the film from some Muslim-dominated nations as well as conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck. Later, readers hear from the head of the National Religious Broadcasters:

NRB President Jerry Johnson posed the all-important question in a series of articles on the organization's website: Should Christians organize churches to see Noah, or boycott it?

While taking issue with some of Aronofsky's vision, Johnson wrote many would "enjoy" the "quality production."

"Most importantly, you can have healthy gospel discussions about some of the positives, and even the negatives," Johnson wrote. He also made clear it was not a "buy up a block of tickets" moment for churches.

But what are the positives? What are the negatives?

This vague story allows that the Koran and the Bible contain the story of Noah. Why not report what those texts say about Noah and compare those stories with the one on the big screen? (Maybe those kind of details would give the plot away, but in this case, isn't that the point?)

In a related story, USA Today reports that Hollywood has found religion and profits at theaters.

That story provides some insight:

Analysts, however, say religious stories can be a box-office wild card.

"In recent months, Noah has generated a lot of controversy for deviating from the Old Testament story upon which it's based," says Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo. "Controversy drives conversation, which in turn creates awareness." He says a $40 million debut "wouldn't be surprising."

Nor should Hollywood's creative license with biblical stories shock viewers, says Peter Ellard, director of the Reinhold Niebuhr Institute of Religion and Culture at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y.

"With regard to the biblical authenticity of these films," Ellard says, "scholars are usually left shaking their heads."

Has anybody come across a story on the "Noah" movie that provides specifics on the differences between the Old Testament and Hollywood versions? Or perhaps you've seen the movie?

In either case, feel free to share a link and/or your insight in the comments section.

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