Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ launches into storm


MEXICO CITY — A lot of people think they know what the real story of the movie “Noah” should be. They are likely some of the same people who think they know what the real story of the man Noah is.

Darren Aronofsky, director of the new movie about the man and the great flood, is ready to rain on what he thinks is their misinformed parade.

“Noah has been turned into a nursery school story,” said the director and co-writer. “And it’s not a nursery school story in the Bible. It’s the end of the world,” Aronofsky said.

The movie had its world premiere in Mexico City on Monday night.

Rarely in recent years has a movie generated as much polarizing opinion before its release as “Noah,” a $130-million drama set to arrive in U.S. theaters March 28. The film stars Russell Crowe as the man who builds a giant ark as God wipes a sinful mankind from the planet; Jennifer Connelly plays his wife, Naameh, with Anthony Hopkins as his grandfather, Methuselah.

The movie is the target of a fatwa from a leading Egyptian Sunni Muslim institution because Noah is mentioned in the Koran and therefore not suitable for artistic depiction. Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates banned the film, with other Middle Eastern countries expected to follow.

Closer to home, where in theory there is more religious tolerance, “Noah” already was attacked by the Christian right for its creative license.

Paramount Pictures, which cofinanced “Noah” with New Regency and is distributing the film, thinks much of the censure came from people who haven’t seen the film and were responding to secondhand accounts of an outdated screenplay.

One conservative Christian organization, the National Religious Broadcasters, threatened to boycott the film unless Paramount put out a marketing disclaimer.

Without telling Aronofsky, the studio decided to modify advertising materials by saying the movie was “inspired by” the story of Noah rather than be seen as literal scripture.

The handful of religious critics who saw the film before Monday’s premiere singled out several of the film’s creations for particular condemnation. Jerry Johnson, president of the NRB, said in part he was put off by a montage suggesting evolution and creationism are not mutually exclusive.

Aronofsky, however, who was raised Jewish and identifies as an atheist, aims to follow a course that makes his telling relevant and timeless; in one rapid-fire sequence about violence, you can glimpse in the blink of an eye.

 

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