“Noah is the least biblical film ever made.” This is a quote from the director of the movie, Darren Aronofsky. His quote continues with language that I will not quote in this article.
Of course, whenever Hollywood takes artistic license with a biblical story, a debate about the role of art is sure to ensue. And just as surely as that debate will rage, some in the Christian community will judge Christian critics for being judgmental. (Did you catch the irony of that sentence?) In fact, it is already happening and the movie is weeks away from being released in the U.S.
Since I have not viewed the movie, I will assume that the director’s assessment can at least mean that it is not a biblically based movie. I’m not sure if he has viewed all of the other movies in the genre to make such a definitive statement. But viewers should not hope to see something contrary to the director’s comments.
The trailer, I must admit, does look promising. My comments below are about the license of art when it comes to biblical stories and may or may not specifically apply to Noah.
I do not have a problem with films being artistic. I’m even willing to use the term in the modern sense. It can be edgy, raw and challenge viewer’s to think beyond their comfort zones. However, my issue lies with the original selection of the artistic subject matter. If an artist has a message to communicate and desires to do so in a provocative manner, be a real artist and create your own story to reflect the desired message and medium. Why must you borrow from what has been produced by others?
I would think this way even if we were talking about another historical figure rather than a biblical character like Noah. When the movie about Lincoln came out in 2012, the man presented on the screen was recognizable as the 16th president. Yet it presented a story in a fresh manner. It was valuable art – in my opinion.
Let’s say that a modern artist creates a painting and titles it Mona Lisa. The first problem is that the new work has a plagiaristic foundation. Artists known as writers get fired or sued for that sort of thing. But let’s say that the new Mona Lisa looks more like a character on TMZ – let’s say Justin Bieber. Would folks really consider the new painting a serious work of art? Would the Louvre be making space near the original for this juvenile creation?
No, not at all. It would be derided. It might make a good t-shirt image for Bieber fans, but it certainly would not rank as art. It might be entertaining, but not necessarily artistic.
Can we not be consistent and apply the same artistic standards to Hollywood? Let Aronofsky be as artistic as he chooses. Let him tell whatever story he desires. But don’t name it Noah and be a man vastly different than Noah.
One last comparison – let’s say that a movie director wants to make a movie about you. He interviews you and talks to people who know you. He reads what you have written. He views your pictures. He learns your schedule and your habits. He knows your favorite foods, etc. He names the movie after you and uses your picture in the promo pieces.
But when you sit in the theater to watch the movie, you see the story of a person who is of the other gender from you. That person is ethnically different, lives in a different part of the world, speaks a different language and acts nothing like you. Would that be art? More likely it would be slander.
In the end I will probably go and see the movie. After all it will allow me the opportunity to enjoy a tub of movie theater popcorn.