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Noah (2014)

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Peter,

The fact that Aronofsky's Noah apparently concludes that God thinks the earth would be better off without people at all and wants to stop people from reproducing entirely, to the point of plotting to kill his female grandchildren, aligns much more with the overpopulation anxieties of non-biblical creation-destruction myths than with the biblical text.

The biblical text is anthropocentric; the Aronofsky scenario outlined by Godawa is terrocentric, much like other ANE creation-destruction myths. Genesis emphatically cites wicked thoughts ("every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually") as well as violence — i.e., against other men, as the Noahide covenant makes clear ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image").

The Genesis story shows no interest at all in the "good" of the earth itself, or of species other than man, whom it clearly privileges above other creatures ("Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything"). In this light, and in light of other scriptural texts, we may say that Genesis essentially depicts the flood as a punishment for sins (cf. Isa 54:9, Wis 18:9, 2 Pet 2:4ff); in other ANE texts, the flood/catastrophe is essentially solving a problem.

The absolute center of the Noah story, the eye of the chiastic structure, is Genesis 8:1: "But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark." God's fidelity to Noah, even more than the punishment for wickedness, is the point of the flood story. Godawa makes it sound as if Noah's survival were an afterthought or a concession.

Edited by SDG

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Taliesin wrote:

: Seems a semantics discussion. Sin is sin is sin, no matter what form it comes in.

It's not "semantics" to distinguish between different kinds of sin. Some sins are more grievous than others. And some things that some people regard as sin are not regarded by other people as sin. These are important distinctions, and they do have consequences (again, see above re: the varying interpretations of the sin of Sodom, which is never spelled out in Genesis itself... much like the sin of Noah's day is never spelled out in Genesis).

SDG wrote:

: The fact that Aronofsky's Noah apparently concludes that God thinks the earth would be better off without people at all and wants to stop people from reproducing entirely, to the point of plotting to kill his female grandchildren, aligns much more with the overpopulation anxieties of non-biblical creation-destruction myths than with the biblical text.

Yes. But just because Aronofsky's Noah makes this assumption, does it necessarily follow that Aronofsky's God is of the same opinion?

: Genesis emphatically cites wicked thoughts ("every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually") as well as violence — i.e., against other men, as the Noahide covenant at the end of the story makes clear ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image").

You can infer that the Genesis 9 covenant refers back to the general wickedness of Genesis 6 if you want, but I don't think there's anything "emphatic" about that link. One of the striking features of Genesis 9 is the way it begins with God telling Noah and his family (and thus all of humanity) that they are permitted to eat any animal they like, so long as they don't consume its blood (it is for this reason that the early Christians ruled, in Acts 15, that Gentiles *didn't* have to abstain from eating certain kinds of animals, but they *did* have to abstain from consuming the blood of said animals), and *then* God moves on to say that, just as animal lifeblood is sacred, so too is human lifeblood, thus there should be no killing, etc., etc. One thought leads to another, but it doesn't necessarily follow that any of those thoughts refers back to the way things were before the Flood came along.

Having said that, note, too, how God says in Genesis 9:3, "Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." That "now" is rather interesting, and has been interpreted by some to mean that humans were vegetarian prior to the Flood -- though that admittedly might not square with God's command to take 2 of every non-kosher animal and 7 of every kosher animal aboard the ark. (Why take far more of the kosher animals unless you were going to eat them aboard the ark?) In any case, if Aronofsky is postulating that the "good" people who lived before the Flood did not eat meat, then we certainly can't argue that there is no biblical basis for this.

: Godawa makes it sound as if Noah's survival were an afterthought or a concession.

He does, yeah. But Godawa's review of the script is not the script. And the draft of the script that he read is not the movie. And the perspective that Godawa brings to the script is not necessarily correct in all its particulars either (a la his objection to Noah's vegetarianism). So there are certain buffers there that need to be taken into account.

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: The fact that Aronofsky's Noah apparently concludes that God thinks the earth would be better off without people at all and wants to stop people from reproducing entirely, to the point of plotting to kill his female grandchildren, aligns much more with the overpopulation anxieties of non-biblical creation-destruction myths than with the biblical text.

Yes. But just because Aronofsky's Noah makes this assumption, does it necessarily follow that Aronofsky's God is of the same opinion?

Godawa, who has read the screenplay, suggests so ("Noah is more loving than God"). I can only comment on Godawa's characterization of the screenplay, so obviously I'm speaking provisionally within that constraint.

: Genesis emphatically cites wicked thoughts ("every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually") as well as violence — i.e., against other men, as the Noahide covenant at the end of the story makes clear ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image").

You can infer that the Genesis 9 covenant refers back to the general wickedness of Genesis 6 if you want, but I don't think there's anything "emphatic" about that link.

"Emphatically" refers to the relentless language of 6:5 ("EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart was ONLY evil CONTINUALLY").

Violence is a separate point. Despite some classroom exposure, I'm not even a Hebrew beginner, but from a little word study looks to me like the word for "violence" may imply or presuppose violence toward other persons, and certainly the preceding chapters of Genesis give us examples of violence against human beings, and no contrasting examples of any other kind of violence with which God might be concerned. Both lexicographically and contextually, I'm inclined to propose that "violence" means violence against people.

Granted that the Noahide permission to eat animals comes after the flood story, not before, we have no textual basis for assuming that wrongful killing or eating of animals was taking place prior to this -- and we do have the J (i.e., non-P) bits of the story calling for seven of every "clean" animal, which at least anticipates if not presupposes the liceity of eating animals.

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:

: "Emphatically" refers to the relentless language of 6:5 ("EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart was ONLY evil CONTINUALLY").

Well, yes, but this continues to beg the question of what 6:5 means by "evil" in the first place.

: Violence is a separate point.

Whoops, just realized that you were thinking of 6:11 on that particular point, even though you only quoted 9:6.

Interestingly, both of those verses are embedded in passages that refer to God as "Elohim", whereas 6:5 refers to God as "YHWH". So, following the source critics, do we have a single narrative here or two? -- a single casus diluvi or two? Not that that necessarily matters when talking about a storyteller like Aronofsky who takes the already-conflated Genesis account and conflates it with yet other materials.

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: "Emphatically" refers to the relentless language of 6:5 ("EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart was ONLY evil CONTINUALLY").

Well, yes, but this continues to beg the question of what 6:5 means by "evil" in the first place.

Not exactly. My point is more that from the picture Godawa paints, it doesn't sound as if moralistic concerns about the "imagination of the thoughts of man's heart" are likely to be much of a concern for the God of this new retelling. The concerns here seem to be more practical—the actual havoc that man's actions are having on the larger ecosphere—and less moral/existential. Genesis 6:5 seems almost to anticipate the spiritual moralism of Matthew 5—the morality of the heart—whereas it sounds as if Aronofsky's screenplay is preoccupied with the unsustainable environmental consequences of man's actions. (Again, this is of course all predicated on Godawa's characterization.)

: Violence is a separate point.

Whoops, just realized that you were thinking of 6:11 on that particular point, even though you only quoted 9:6.

"Violence" was an allusion to verses 11 and 13. Sorry if that was unclear.

Interestingly, both of those verses are embedded in passages that refer to God as "Elohim", whereas 6:5 refers to God as "YHWH". So, following the source critics, do we have a single narrative here or two? -- a single casus diluvi or two? Not that that necessarily matters when talking about a storyteller like Aronofsky who takes the already-conflated Genesis account and conflates it with yet other materials.

It doesn't really matter from the perspective of my critique either.

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:

: Not exactly. My point is more that from the picture Godawa paints, it doesn't sound as if moralistic concerns about the "imagination of the thoughts of man's heart" are likely to be much of a concern for the God of this new retelling. The concerns here seem to be more practical—the actual havoc that man's actions are having on the larger ecosphere—and less moral/existential.

Ah, gotcha.

My apologies, BTW, if yesterday's posts were a little rushed or jumbled. I've been meaning to blog Godawa's post since at least a day before you linked to it here, but I just haven't had time to sit down and give it the formal attention it requires. A&F being a place for brainstorming and thinking out loud, on the other hand, I did let myself dash off some quick comments between picking kids up from their various schools etc.

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I loved one of Aronofsky's 1st films, The Wrestler, for its morality. The equation of the stripper and the wrestler was for me, a pure evocation of how we desecrate Gods' image in each other and in ourselves - how we settle for being used in place of being loved. For all I've read about objectification and commodification - often in film studies - I never quite got the idiom of people being turned into things till I saw it distilled in a plastic toy in a little boy's hand. So that movie was vital to me in how its cliches struck home.

I came to it late because I didn't know his work and when I heard what the film was 'about' - a professional wrestler's comeback - I dismissed it. I'm not saying Aronofsky's new film will be anyone's epiphany, it might be a mess and it might distort its source material irredeemably. But I'd hate for Christians to shun it because a man who's read an undated script waxes prophetic and dire:

All in all, the script for "Noah" is an uninteresting and unBiblical waste of a $150 million dollars . . . . This movie will be rejected by millions of devoted Bible readers worldwide because once again it subverts their own sacred narrative with a political agenda of pagan earth religion that is offensive to their Faith . . . . The real story will be that "Noah" was made by someone outside of their community that was insulting, degrading, and contrary to their deeply held beliefs and values.

With all respect to SDG, I felt the article was less about Christian apprehension about 'Noah' than Conservative mistrust of environmentalism. I don't want to impugn either, but I had a hard time with their conflation. Also with the charge that the film is 'pagan'.

To Godawa, environmentalism is incompatible with Biblical truth and love for humanity. I read the full version of his piece and think I understand why. But to me, it simply isn't (any more than Christianity is reducible to its radical fringes.) Unlike him, I do see it as plausible for Christians.

I don't actually think of myself as an environmentalist, but I believe in human exceptionalism and also believe that it confers the obligation of stewardship: that the natural world is a gift from God and therefore and because life depends on it, we honour God's image in using it well. Far from seeing that the Genesis creation account 'divests nature of deity', I think it imprints the whole of nature with God's hand and will.

Against those myths, the biblical version insisted that the problem was not mankind, but sin.

To mar the gift that makes life possible could be a desecration of God's image in man. The film's departures from the Bible could still incorporate sin - contemporary perceptions of sin. The ark story is one of life on the cusp of extinction, about a (super)natural disaster that has overtaken the planet. If 'Noah' makes a connection between present fears and Biblical events, on the face of it, I don't see the egregious, pagan assault on Scripture.

You may think those fears are overwrought. They are still manifest and urgent in our collective psyche. If you could remove them from their political sleeve, from the war between liberals and conservatives (at whose intersection I think the site and article live) . . . are they false to the chilling lessons of Scripture: that we are our own worst enemy, capable of bringing about the destruction of life as we know it?

Which is an inefficient way of saying this:

A storyteller has to fill that gap with *something*. We may not like how Aronofsky has filled that gap, but I don't think we can say he's ignoring sin just because he focuses on a different set of sins than you or I might pick.

These words gave me pause:

. . . it doesn't sound as if moralistic concerns about the "imagination of the thoughts of man's heart" are likely to be much of a concern for the God of this new retelling. The concerns here seem to be more practical—the actual havoc that man's actions are having on the larger ecosphere—and less moral/existential.

I felt this degree of subtlety was missing from Godawa's verdict.

I liked the point about the irony of the ark as a toy. I can't always easily reconcile the God who feels the death of one sparrow with the God who drowns the entire world. Or in Genesis 22 (which I thought might also enter the film) who brings another patriarch within a knife's edge of sacrifice.

Godawa is scathing about the 'treehugging' genocidal God, less loving and merciful than Noah. I wish I had the script in my hands. To cast Noah as the weak link in the divine plan of extinction implies a God so distractable that he's mislaid his original plan, or so feeble that human acts can derail it. I can't tell if this God springs from Godawa's imagination or Aronofsky's, but I like what Peter writes here:

Yes. But just because Aronofsky's Noah makes this assumption, does it necessarily follow that Aronofsky's God is of the same opinion?

I hope the film is more nuanced and sensitive. If the scene with the newborn twins is kept, I hope it turns out to be about self-loathing - the altogether human dread that our sins are past forgiving - and not a God who hates and deserts us. Doubt and mistrust are the dark underseam of faith.

In spite of his long opening caveat about wanting the opposite, I felt Godawa wanted the movie to fail. I think that's what troubles me most. And I couldn't figure out why it's OK, ethically, to reveal so much of a movie's potential plot?

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Josie wrote:

: In spite of his long opening caveat about wanting the opposite, I felt Godawa wanted the movie to fail.

I'm not so sure of that. Call me cynical, but, since Godawa has a Noah novel of his own -- and since he complains in his review that Aronofsky's film "will ruin for decades the possibility of making a really great and entertaining movie of this Bible hero" -- one is almost tempted to say that Godawa would hope this movie *succeeds* so that someone will option his own book some day. (Frankly, I'm surprised as it is that a major studio went ahead with Aronofsky's film so soon after Evan Almighty turned out to be a significant commercial disappointment.)

: And I couldn't figure out why it's OK, ethically, to reveal so much of a movie's potential plot?

Well, there are lots of websites that read screenplays and give away major plot points years before the movies came out. Drew McWeeny basically revealed that Vulcan would be destroyed in the last Star Trek movie two years before it came out. The fact that he did it doesn't make it okay, of course, but it's certainly one of those things that the Internet just *does*. Plus, note how Godawa's post is headlined "Sucker Punch"; it was posted as part of Big Hollywood's recurring feature, where BH reads the screenplays of movies that are in the works and exposes how movies that *seem* to be aimed at conservatives are *actually* going to "sucker punch" them with liberal politics.

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As much as I admire Godawa, and as much as I believe this particular story must be important to him, I find his 'review' to be too sarcastic and presumptuously condescending to take seriously. Perhaps I'm too quick to defend Aronofsky, but I have an impossible time imagining that he would ever create a movie matching Godawa's hasty description.

Edited by Jeremy

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As much as I admire Godawa, and as much as I believe this particular story must be important to him, I find his 'review' to be too sarcastic and presumptuously condescending to take seriously. Perhaps I'm too quick to defend Aronofsky, but I have an impossible time imagining that he would ever create a movie matching Godawa's hasty description.

Fair enough. Even if Godawa's characterization is only about, say, 70 percent accurate, that's still potentially pretty troubling.

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As much as I admire Godawa, and as much as I believe this particular story must be important to him, I find his 'review' too sarcastic and presumptuously condescending to take seriously.

Yes, and I wasn't prepared for its tenor. I don't think I've even seen Godawa's name before or heard of BH. From the internet, I gather he helps (Conservative?) Christians to watch movies defensively and deliberatively. That sheds light on the piece and so does this:

it was posted as part of Big Hollywood's recurring feature, where BH reads the screenplays of movies that are in the works and exposes how movies that *seem* to be aimed at conservatives are *actually* going to "sucker punch" them with liberal politics.

I wish Bible-based movies were not presumptively aimed at conservatives (or even Christians) and a film about environmental stewardship wasn't presumptively liberal propaganda. That's my least favourite part of the review. If he had stuck to spiritual worth and legitimacy - like the CDS did in this thread - I would have listened harder because I respect that approach to culture.

I imagine the headings 'Noah' Preaches Environmentalism, Hatred of Humanity and 'Psycho Noah' are editorial touches, but the language is drawn from his review. There's just so much of it: 'great tree hugger in the sky', ' Noah is like the Mother Teresa of animals' and 'like a magical Mesopotamian Dr. Doolittle'. It's funny with a bitter edge. I kept thinking of St. Francis of Assisi, but more of Bill Maher narrating events of the Bible to ridiculous and twisted effect. Which made me more predisposed to give the script the benefit of the doubt. Some of the most spiritually graceful and earnest art I know, handled roughly, could sound to have been made by and for lunatics.

Call me cynical, but, since Godawa has a Noah novel of his own . . . .

Oh, he has a personal stake in Hollywood Noahs. I thought he was just declaring a noble motive so he could be harsh with impunity. I was more cynical.

Drew McWeeny basically revealed that Vulcan would be destroyed in the last Star Trek movie two years before it came out. The fact that he did it doesn't make it okay, of course, but it's certainly one of those things that the Internet just *does*.

I guess I'm not surprised it happens. And movies are so actively anticipated, they don't always keep themselve s under wraps. Still. Would you and your friends do it: give away the entire plot?

It surprised me in a screenwriter who, even if I wasn't comfortable with his review, clearly cares a whole lot about integrity. If Noah tries and fails to kill h is own grandchildren - believing it's God's will - it sounds like a moment on which the whole film might pivot, thematically, dramatically, spiritually. Something to be held in reserve.

Fair enough. Even if Godawa's characterization is only about, say, 70 percent accurate, that's still potentially pretty troubling.

I came away from that characterization feeing that if I could strip away the interpretation and interpolation - the psycho Noah, pagan, postmoderns, leftists, and radicals, propaganda stuff - down to the bare bones of plot and dialogue - if I could read what Godawa read . . . well . . . if the film's ultimate conclusion is hatred of humanity (as ancillary to cherishing the earth and all other lifeforms) it will absolutely play Scripture false. Of course. But if it manages to be about guilt and sin and God's purification of what we've despoiled . . . even about the emergence of love . . . that's a different story.

Though if I knew Godawa's work and had learnt to trust his take on films I'm sure I would be pessimistic and troubled too.

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Yes, and I wasn't prepared for its tenor. I don't think I've even seen Godawa's name before or heard of BH. From the internet, I gather he helps (Conservative?) Christians to watch movies defensively and deliberatively. That sheds light on the piece and so does this:

He's also a writer/producer/director. To End All Wars is quite good; I haven't seen any of his other projects, and don't really want to.

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I'm still wondering how Grace Hill Media/As1's promotion fits into this. From what little I know of them, I wouldn't see them signing on to promote the film Godawa describes. And they have definitely signed on. Then again, we've already established that Godawa's description might not be remotely accurate. I wonder if Aronofsky's people had to offer Grace Hill some sort of "assurances" that the film wouldn't be too subversive before they signed on?

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As much as I admire Godawa, and as much as I believe this particular story must be important to him, I find his 'review' to be too sarcastic and presumptuously condescending to take seriously. Perhaps I'm too quick to defend Aronofsky, but I have an impossible time imagining that he would ever create a movie matching Godawa's hasty description.

Fair enough. Even if Godawa's characterization is only about, say, 70 percent accurate, that's still potentially pretty troubling.

Oh possibly. That quote from Aronofsky about Noah being the first environmentalist definitely made me wince. I don't deny that environmentalism is a legitimate topic, but it seems a damn shame to turn the character of Noah into a Gladiator-esque Lorax.

Edited by Jeremy

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Josie wrote:

: I wish Bible-based movies were not presumptively aimed at conservatives (or even Christians) . . .

Indeed, especially when the maker of this particular film is not Christian but Jewish. Expecting this film to present an evangelical Protestant view of Noah would be as silly as expecting a heavily Catholic film like The Passion of the Christ to present an evangelical Protestant view of Jesus. (That being said, evangelicals and other Protestants *do* make up a huge chunk of the moviegoing public, so you can hardly blame the marketing departments on either of these films for targeting that audience.)

: Still. Would you and your friends do it: give away the entire plot?

Maybe, sure -- especially if I gave a spoiler warning at the top of the article, as Godawa (or his editor) does. I've been tracking news about this film fairly closely at my blog, and I haven't shied away from passing along anything that I've picked up anywhere else.

In fact, Godawa's synopsis sheds no light whatsoever on certain elements that interest *me* -- such as what role Tubal-Cain (the Ray Winstone character, originally described in the trade reports as Noah's "nemesis") or Og might play -- and it introduces at least one name that I had never come across before, namely the "evil warlord Akkad", who sneaks aboard the Ark. As I have mentioned at my blog, there are Jewish legends to the effect that Og, being a giant, might have lived in the days before the Flood, and that he might have survived the Flood by sneaking aboard the Ark. So there may be an overlap of some sort between Akkad and Og; maybe they are the same character, but with different names in different drafts of the script? And if Tubal-Cain was originally touted as Noah's "nemesis", then who is this Akkad character?

So there are still some mysteries as to what, exactly, will be in this movie.

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He's also a writer/producer/director. To End All Wars is quite good; I haven't seen any of his other projects, and don't really want to.

I've not heard of that film either but one of his books actually sounded interesting to me.

That being said, evangelicals and other Protestants *do* make up a huge chunk of the moviegoing public, so you can hardly blame the marketing departments on either of these films for targeting that audience.

No, I don't.

And I would see more than just a financial loss if the film is unable to reach that audience.

Indeed, especially when the maker of this particular film is not Christian but Jewish. Expecting this film to present an evangelical Protestant view of Noah would be as silly as expecting a heavily Catholic film like The Passion of the Christ to present an evangelical Protestant view of Jesus.

To roughly paraphrase Godawa, 'Noah' is being developed for faith-friendly viewers and is destined to fail because Aronofsky is an outsider who does not understand them.

That premise saddens me in the same way it would sadden me to think that being a Protestant could be an impediment to enjoying the best Catholic art.

Maybe, sure -- especially if I gave a spoiler warning at the top of the article, as Godawa (or his editor) does. I've been tracking news about this film fairly closely at my blog, and I haven't shied away from passing along anything that I've picked up anywhere else.

I didn't even notice the spoiler alert. And now I'm not sure why I thought revealing the plot before a film's release was wrong . . . .

In fact, Godawa's synopsis sheds no light whatsoever on certain elements that interest *me*.

The revelation of characters and their identities might not spoil the viewing experience quite like knowing the denouement. But I see the point: there's still plenty of mystery.

Maybe it's meant to be warlord *of* Akkad?

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Josie wrote:

: To roughly paraphrase Godawa, 'Noah' is being developed for faith-friendly viewers and is destined to fail because Aronofsky is an outsider who does not understand them.

That may be how Godawa sees things. But I'd be really surprised if Aronofsky, who has wanted to make this film for *years*, were somehow tailoring it to appeal to evangelical audiences, now. Then again, I was surprised when Grace Hill began promoting this film several months ago.

There's no question that Aronofsky will need to appeal to a much wider audience than usual to make this film a success. He's never had a budget of this size before; I can't find figures for Pi and Requiem for a Dream, but, according to Box Office Mojo, The Fountain cost $35 million (and ended up grossing only $16 million worldwide), while The Wrestler cost $6 million (and grossed almost $45 million worldwide) and Black Swan cost $13 million (and grossed a whopping $329 million worldwide) -- and now Noah is said to cost somewhere in the $130 million range, or about double the budgets for all of his previous films combined! With the exception of Black Swan, none of his films have ever grossed more than $45 million worldwide, so it's not like he has a proven *track record* of connecting with audiences, not on this scale.

: Maybe it's meant to be warlord *of* Akkad?

Yeah, I wonder if maybe this character is going to turn out to be the guy who founded the Akkadian empire or something like that. (The Akkadian empire dates to between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, according to Wikipedia -- or around the time the Flood took place, if you follow Bishop Ussher's chronology.)

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On Thursday, Aronofsky tweeted: "work restarts tomorrow on #Noah. excited to shoot. hope everyone is doing all right." So it sounds like the set -- or part of it, at least -- might be in good-enough condition to resume shooting. (Unless, perhaps, they've decided to shoot some *other* parts of the film while the set is fixed.)

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That may be how Godawa sees things. But I'd be really surprised if Aronofsky, who has wanted to make this film for *years*, were somehow tailoring it to appeal to evangelical audiences, now.

Me too. I would be stunned, and not because Aronofsky's Jewish. i would find it equally strange if he tailored the film to Jewish viewers.

It's rather that I can't imagine the desire to woo a niche audience leading him, creatively, or undergirding his art. He doesn't strike me as that sort of director.

With so much money at stake for this film and films to-be, I do imagine the pressure to reach this audience is very high indeed. But I'm ignorant of the industry and how far such pressure shapes a film, from inception to release.

I'm not sure if this came out in my other post, but I feel a treatment that secularized the story and left it spiritually barren (which I think is Godawa's real plaint) would be abysmal. Only I don't understand the insider/outsider divide. I'm just very resistant to the idea that art's capacity to touch us spiritually is coterminous iwith religion.

There's no question that Aronofsky will need to appeal to a much wider audience than usual to make this film a success. . . . With the exception of Black Swan, none of his films have ever grossed more than $45 million worldwide, so it's not like he has a proven *track record* of connecting with audiences, not on this scale.

Well, do you know what kind of track record he has in alienating or connecting with evangelical audiences?

Then again, I was surprised when Grace Hill began promoting this film several months ago.

That's at least the 3rd time Grace Hill has come up in this thread. I know very little about the firm, even though I copyedit for a site they own, HJ. When I first discovered that link, i was surprised too and deeply uneasy. I looked for parity between HJ's coverage and GH's promotion: PR work posing as journalism. What helped was to ask Greg and to recognize that the reviews were sincere and unscripted. Since then, the only time I've really been aware of GH is from a few posts when they took on full ownership - at about the same time As1 was launched. They seem very approachable and open to questions.

As for why 'Noah', my wonder is prompted by all of yours. I wonder why not? Godawa's review fits the pattern As1 is trying to shake - where Hollywood is guilty till proven innocent and evangelicals shun films for not mirroring their values. I don't remember the details of As1's plan to embrace Bible-based projects, but it agrees with Godawa on at least one point, that 'Noah's' failure at the box office will have wider repercussions.

Edited by Josie

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Josie said:

:I've not heard of that film either but one of his books actually sounded interesting to me.

Both the film and the book are quite good and worth taking a look at I think. That being said I don't necessarily agree with all of his conclusions in the book, but I certainly agree with the basic premise.... to engage film with thoughtful discernment.

Peter T Chattaway said:

:Indeed, especially when the maker of this particular film is not Christian but Jewish. Expecting this film to present an evangelical Protestant view of Noah would be as silly as ....

This fits with something I've been wondering about for awhile. I expect that from a Jewish perspective, expecting a film from a Jewish director to have to present any sort of Christian view would probably be insulting. I agree with the general consensus that the main thrust of the flood story is about sin (specifically, I think, violence.) But I'm wondering what the Jewish community would think of a more environmental take on the story? Of course, like Christianity, there are different factions of Judaism which would have slightly different views. So I guess I wonder how much input he's getting from the Jewish community and if so how much regard he has for this input?

As mentioned I agree with the idea that the main thrust of the flood story should be about sin. But I also find any idea that caring for the environment in a deep way is pagan and therefore of no value as being problematic. I don't think that kind of view is going to attract a whole lot of pagans, we sometimes tend to forget that the environment is a big concern to a whole lot of people. Plus... as I've touched on here before, whose to say that a deep connection with nature and care for nature is only pagan and not compatitable with Christianity. After all God is the creator.

Also when one looks at the whole flood story through a lense of the main sin problem in humanity at the time (surely amongst others) as being violence, or that which leads to violence, then why does it have to be that the flood was solely a wrathful punitive genocidal act on God's part. I mean if the people were so far lost as the story suggests, wouldn't their violent self destruction over a period of time have been more horrific than a flood. More full of pain. Might not it also be reasonable to view the flood as God refusing to give up on the human race. As God intervening to save a remnant and start again, and put a quibosh on any even more horrific extended human suffering through our own violent self destruction.

But in this one could also find environmental care in the fact that in the story God DID have concern to make sure that there were some of every animal on the boat, no easy task. In other words he wasn't about to let our sin completely wreck the planet and its creatures. Also of note, in the story after the flood, it says that the animals were then afraid of humanity, because they knew that it all happened because of humanity, meaning because of our sin (I know it sounds crazy but it's there.)

So what I see here is the potential to have sin as a major aspect of the story, but also have environmental aspects related to this. The destruction of the flood and any related environmental connections happened because of sin, whether it be directly or indirectly. There's a good story in that somewhere, I think. It leads to some thought provoking questions.

We've got a story where violence and sin is connected with environmental destruction, but where God cares enough about humanity and the creatures of the world to save some of each of them. Yet afterwords the animals realize (sense?) that humanity is so deeply connected to the course of things, that our sin is capable of causing (leading to?) worldwide catastrophe.

Which leads to another question. Is not caring for the world and environment a sin? Or even... Is it violent? Is our neglect of caring for the environment, when Genesis more or less says that we are to tend to it, a sinful, destructive and therefore violent act against God's created world? Those are questions worth exploring, I think.

I mean. There are other parts in scripture that connect violence and sin with the environment. The ground cries out when blood is shed on it. The earth is in birth pains as mentioned in Paul's writings. etc.

Yet I'd be surpised if this film does this. It certainly would be a challenging task to pull off properly.

Edited by Attica

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Josie wrote:

: It's rather that I can't imagine the desire to woo a niche audience leading him, creatively, or undergirding his art. He doesn't strike me as that sort of director.

Oh, I agree. And I wouldn't want him to tailor his film to any particular audience either. I want it to be *his* film and I want to be able to evaluate it as such, instead of having to always guess at what was *his* input and what was studio interference.

: Well, do you know what kind of track record he has in alienating or connecting with evangelical audiences?

I'm not sure he *has* one. I mean, I don't think evangelical audiences have been particularly "aware" of him. I wrote about him (and interviewed him) when Pi came out in the late '90s, but that was a very-low-budget indie. And I guess there was some talk about possible Christ-figure elements in The Wrestler, though again, I heard a lot of that from non-evangelical sources. He's been pretty under the radar, I think, until now -- apart from the movie-geek crowd, of course. :)

: That's at least the 3rd time Grace Hill has come up in this thread. I know very little about the firm, even though I copyedit for a site they own, HJ.

Ha!

Incidentally, does *Grace Hill* itself actually own HJ now? We had a thread on HJ's acquisition by Jonathan Bock etc., but at the time, a very sharp distinction was made between "owned by Grace Hill" (not true, at least at the time) and "owned by the owners of Grace Hill" (true, at least at the time). (Note: most or all of the posts by at least two of that thread's participants have since been deleted, so the thread's a little choppy, now. Oh, and the formatting's all messed up -- especially where the "quote" feature is concerned -- because the board has gone through a few software upgrades since then.)

: As for why 'Noah', my wonder is prompted by all of yours. I wonder why not?

I certainly understand the connection as far as "Bible story" and "Christian audiences" is concerned. But, generally, Grace Hill has promoted films that have some sort of pro-faith element, for lack of a better term; the one major exception to this (that I can think of) was The Da Vinci Code, where Grace Hill was hired by the studio to set up a website for *discussion* around an obviously controversial film. It almost sounds like Noah *could* be the kind of controversial film for which it might be necessary to frame the discussion in certain ways... but so far the film has not been promoted that way at all. So far, the studio's official synopsis has called the film "a close adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark", while the promotion has been virtually indistinguishable from the promotional work that Grace Hill did on Evan Almighty, a film that very much pandered to Christian audiences in its own way.

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as I've touched on here before, whose to say that a deep connection with nature and care for nature is only pagan and not compatitable with Christianity. After all God is the creator.

To me, a connection with nature seems profoundly Christian.

Might not it also be reasonable to view the flood as God refusing to give up on the human race.

Yes. And just as narratively the story of the flood bears the story of the ark, the Ark itself is held afloat by the waters of destruction. I'm not sure mercy and the preservation of life are isolable from punishment.

As God intervening to save a remnant and start again, and put a quibosh on any even more horrific extended human suffering through our own violent self destruction.

I do think of the flood as arresting our painful descent into sin.

Those are questions worth exploring, I think.

I do too, and won't be alarmed if the film raises them.

I wrote about him (and interviewed him) when Pi came out in the late '90s, but that was a very-low-budget indie.

Could you possibly link your interview? I would really like to read it.

And I guess there was some talk about possible Christ-figure elements in The Wrestler, though again, I heard a lot of that from non-evangelical sources.

I don't remember if I read any criticism of The Wrestler, but for me, those Christ-figure elements were sort of fractured across the film - very distinct and harrowing.

Incidentally, does *Grace Hill* itself actually own HJ now?

Oh no, I'm pretty sure Grace Hill doesn't own HJ! That's just me being sloppy. The distinction of 'owned by the owners of' still holds and I imagine it's legally and financially meaningful. The change is that the owners of Grace Hill have moved from co- to full ownership of HJ.

It almost sounds like Noah *could* be the kind of controversial film for which it might be necessary to frame the discussion in certain ways...

Without ever seeing The Davinci Code, the backlash was still very intelligible to me. And from the 'facts' of this script (minus Godawa's embellishments ) I can imagine some viewers unhappy that the adaptation is not more Biblically 'faithful'. But TDC drew accusations of blasphemy and defamation. I know your opinion is tentatively, conditionally put, but I wonder what 'Noah' controversy would look like. And I'm not exactly sure what 'pro-faith' means, but I think it might be shorthand for 'panders to a Christian audience'.

Edited by Josie

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