Now that Easter has come and gone, it’s time for Son of God to look beyond its theatrical release — and sure enough, yesterday came word that the Blu-Ray and DVD release is set for June 3. According to High-Def Digest, the bonus features will include: “Son of God: Reborn; Making of Video (includes Spanish version); Son of God Set; and Compassion Video.” Curiously, this movie, which consists of about four episodes’ worth of the ten-episode mini-series The Bible, is currently selling at Amazon for $35.99 (a slight reduction from the official retail price of $39.99), whereas The Bible itself is selling in its entirety for $29.99 (less than half the official retail price of $69.99).
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 was entirely dark-skinned at first, and that lighter skin was a later genetic mutation that emerged as certain population groups moved “into areas of low UV radiation”. The film flips this around by positing that the entire human race was light-skinned at first, or at least right after the Flood, and thus darker skin must have evolved later.
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.
It’s tempting to say that Darren Aronofsky’s Noah has brought back the Bible epic. It’s certainly the first major live-action Bible movie to be produced by a Hollywood studio in decades. But the fascinating thing about this film is how utterly different it is from the Bible movies that came before it. Aronofsky has not revived the genre so much as he has utterly transformed it.
Unlike most Bible films, which take place within decidedly historical contexts, Noah is based on the earliest, most “mythic” chapters of Genesis, as well as some of the Jewish legends that have grown up around those chapters. Building on the ancient otherworldliness of these stories, Aronofsky has created a grounded yet somewhat fantastical environment that is, at times, strikingly reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings movies.
But the core biblical themes — of temptation, wickedness and punishment — are still there, and Aronofsky infuses the genre with his own personal style, not least in his use of haunting dream sequences and in his focus on a morally ambiguous protagonist.
Put it all together and you’ve got something quite unique.
Son of God news round-up: a box-office update, thoughts on Peter Bart’s “open letter” to Mark Burnett, and more
The makers of Son of God promoted the film quite heavily during the run-up to its release two weeks ago, and they kept at it during the film’s first week in theatres — but the publicity machine has slowed down considerably since then, and now, in its third weekend, Son of God is estimated to have grossed about $5.4 million, which puts it in 7th place for the week.
That figure is down 48% from last weekend, which, percentage-wise, is the second-largest drop in this week’s top ten (the biggest is the 57.6% by which 300: Rise of an Empire fell from its opening last week). With a weekend take of $1,806 per screen, Son of God also had the second-lowest per-screen average in the top ten, ahead of only the $1,444 per screen taken in by Frozen, the Oscar-winning Disney cartoon that has been playing in theatres for almost four months now.
Two years ago, when Paramount Pictures first announced that it was producing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, the studio said the film would be “a close adaptation of the Biblical story”. Now, after a couple weeks of sometimes baffling controversy, the studio is taking a different tack, announcing yesterday that it will add a disclaimer to many of the upcoming ads and trailers for the film to clarify that it is an “imaginative” adaptation of the story and not a “literal” one.
The Wrap, for its part, reports that the disclaimer has been added to the film as well, though neither of the trade papers linked above support that claim.