Noah news round-up: Oscar buzz & an environmental panel

It seems like the Oscars happened just last month. Oh, wait, that’s because they did happen just last month. So we have almost a year to go before the next batch of golden statues are handed out. Still, why wait to campaign for next year’s awards when you could start right now!

Two weeks ago, Pete Hammond wondered whether critically-acclaimed films like Noah and The Grand Budapest Hotel might have a shot at the Oscars, despite the fact that they were released so early in the year. Now comes word, via Deadline and Variety, that Paramount has already started its campaign for Noah.

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Ethnic diversity, or the lack thereof, in the new Bible movies

One of the issues that some people have had with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah — it was never a big-enough deal to become a full-fledged controversy, per se — concerns the ethnicity of the actors.

The film depicts the annihilation of the entire human race, except for one family that will go on to produce the entire human race as we know it today — so it seems a little odd to some people that pretty much every character we see in this film fits into a single ethnic category, i.e. Caucasian.

It seems even more odd when one considers that the human race originally had dark skin and then evolved lighter skin as some population groups “migrated away from the tropics . . . into areas of low UV radiation” and “developed light skin pigmentation as an evolutionary selection acting against vitamin D depletion.”

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The silence, justice, mercy and love of God in Noah

Questions of personal taste aside, most of the problems that people have had with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah don’t stand up to all that much scrutiny. Does the film reflect a Gnostic theology? Not at all. Is the snakeskin worn by Adam and his descendants necessarily evil in the Jewish tradition? Not at all. Were the righteous people who lived before the Flood vegetarian? Actually, yes. And so on, and so on.

The one complaint that arguably does have some merit is the one that says God does not speak in this film. God talks a lot in the biblical version of this story, but in the film he is silent, communicating through visions and signs that are open to more than one interpretation, and leaving some pretty crucial decisions to Noah himself.

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On asking questions, not assuming answers, about Noah

Brian Godawa has now updated his post on the Noah serpent — twice! — in response to posts of mine in which I debunked the claim that Noah is Gnostic and tried to untangle just what the snakeskin represents, both in Judaism and within the film specifically.

Brian’s a good guy, and he’s done a lot of research into the Noah story, and I have found his posts on that subject very informative. But when it comes to his analysis of Darren Aronofsky’s film, it seems to me that he has certain blind spots, or that he insists too strongly on filtering his experience of the film through a certain worldview without fully engaging with the film on its own terms.

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Noah interview round-up: co-writer Ari Handel

Two weeks ago, I posted a collection of interviews with Noah director Darren Aronofsky, and I have updated that post with new interview clips ever since. But in the meantime — especially as Aronofsky has gone overseas to promote the film — there have also been a number of interviews with his co-writer Ari Handel. So I figured I should start a post to collect those, too.

I interviewed Aronofsky and Handel together myself back in February, and I linked to a more recent interview with Handel in my post on the infamous snakeskin.

Handel was also featured prominently in a “faith leaders” video that I posted a couple weeks ago, and I have previously linked to interviews that he has done with Hollywood Jesus and Hugh Hewitt. See also the interviews that Handel and Aronofsky did together to promote the Noah graphic novel here, here and here.

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Be as wise as serpents, but stay away from snakeskins!

“Temptation led to sin.”

That’s the second sentence in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. It’s printed on the screen for all to see. It is accompanied by an image of a serpent shedding its light skin and emerging as a darker, more foreboding creature. It is also followed by images of violence and destruction.

To those who are even half-familiar with the story of the Fall, you might think that this would all seem pretty straightforward. But no. Instead, a bizarre idea has surfaced in recent days, to the effect that Aronofsky’s film espouses a kind of Gnosticism.

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The Jewish roots of — and responses to — Noah

If there’s one thing that has annoyed me about some of the debate around Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, it has been the persistent assumption — on both sides — that the film was made either for Christians or against Christians. Some people dismiss the film because they think the studio wanted to pander to the Christian market, while others think the film was made to subvert the beliefs of Christians. Rarely does anyone take a step back and say, “Hey, these filmmakers are Jewish, and the story of Noah comes from the Jewish scriptures. I wonder what Jewish audience members make of this film?”

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Exclusive: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel on universal truths and specific traditions in Noah

My interviews with Darren Aronofsky: 1998 | 2014 pt 1 | 2014 pt 2 | 2014 pt 3

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of seeing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and speaking to both Aronofsky and his co-writer/co-producer Ari Handel immediately after the screening. The following is part four of our conversation. Click on the links for parts one, two and three. The film comes out tonight.

One last question — for now, I guess, because I’d love to talk even longer–

Darren Aronofsky: Yeah, yeah, you could always come over to our dorm room. (laughs) I feel like I’m back in college. This is sophomore year at college, is me and Ari and a bunch of guys talking. I love it.

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Noah interview round-up: director Darren Aronofsky

When I interviewed Darren Aronofsky in New York four weeks ago, it was the first time I had heard him discuss his film Noah in the context of midrash, a form of Jewish narrative interpretation of the scriptures. But he has certainly brought it up quite a bit in the interviews he has done since then.

For example, it’s right there in the headline that sits atop the interview that Huffington Post religion editor Paul Brandeis Raushenbush did with Aronofsky and his co-writer Ari Handel (‘Noah: A Midrash by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel’). A couple sample quotes:
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Exclusive: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel on biblical accuracy and combining science and religion in Noah

My interviews with Darren Aronofsky: 1998 | 2014 pt 1 | 2014 pt 2 | 2014 pt 4

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of seeing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and speaking to both Aronofsky and his co-writer/co-producer Ari Handel immediately after the screening. The following is part three of our conversation. Click on the links for parts one and two. The film comes out tomorrow night.

Warning: This section of the interview begins with a spoiler from the film’s third act.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the question of “accuracy.” It’s a word that comes up constantly in relation to Bible films, I think because people are afraid of creativity, and yet of course your film does definitely follow certain things like the measurements of the Ark, and yet on the other hand your film has only one wife for one of Noah’s kids–

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