Muslim responses to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah

While flood stories are common to many ancient mythologies, the story of Noah per se first appears in the Book of Genesis, which is common to the Jewish and Christian scriptures. So it goes without saying that Christians and Jews have been actively debating the merits of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah since before the film came out two weeks ago.

But the story of Noah is also central to the Muslim faith; there is even an entire sura devoted to him in the Koran. Despite this, there hasn’t been much talk about Muslim responses to the film, at least not in my news feeds, apart from some mention of the fact that certain Muslim countries have banned the film while certain other countries haven’t.

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Noah news round-up: a new TV spot, an update on which Muslim countries are banning the film, and more

Noah has been out in theatres for almost two weeks now, but that doesn’t mean the news around this film has died down yet. There’s a new TV spot that quotes some of the more positive reviews out there, the people behind popular Bible apps and websites say interest in Genesis has gone up, and we have an update on which Muslim countries are and are not banning the film. Check it all out below the jump.

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Noah news round-up: Lebanon says yes, Indonesia says no, a curious connection to XXXChurch.com, and more

First things first: the soundtrack is out today. Buy it via iTunes or Amazon.

Now: Is Noah going to open in Egypt tomorrow? That still seems to be the plan, according to the studio’s website, but a few other predominantly Muslim countries have already banned the film, and the top Muslim authority in Egypt recommended banning it there, too, a few weeks ago, so if a decision hasn’t been made yet, it should be soon.

In any case, Indonesia — the most populous Muslim country of them all — has now joined the club and banned the film itself, partly because the visual depiction of a prophet is forbidden in some versions of Islam but also because the film doesn’t follow the version of Noah’s story that appears in the Koran.

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Noah news round-up: new interviews, new op-ed pieces, new poster, and another book on the way

Several new articles about Darren Aronofsky’s Noah — including interviews with the filmmakers and op-ed pieces by people who have seen the film — have popped up since the last round-up. The film also has a new IMAX poster, which you can see to the right.

The biggest new interview is this one in the Los Angeles Times, apparently filed by John Horn from the film’s world premiere in Mexico City last Monday.

In it, Horn says the film is “one of the most overtly spiritual movies any big Hollywood studio has made in years,” adding that, “even if Crowe has the lead role, the real star of the movie is the concept of original sin.”

While Horn, it seems to me, sensationalizes a few things — while Jerry Johnson, the head of the National Religious Broadcasters, did persuade Paramount to add a disclaimer to some of the film’s marketing materials, I don’t recall hearing that he ever threatened to boycott the film, for example — he also gets some interesting quotes from Aronofsky himself. Here are some of the more interesting bits:
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Noah news round-up: Mexico City interviews, an Egyptian debate, a Christian op-ed piece, new profiles, and more

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah was scheduled to have its world premiere in Mexico City tonight, but apparently the director popped down there a day early to speak to the public.

It’s not clear from the reports in Milenio and El Universal whether the actual film was shown yesterday, but apparently Aronofsky told the crowd that he chose Mexico City for the film’s premiere because he visits that country all the time.

Amateur videos of Mexican interviews with Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman, who play two of Noah’s sons, have already popped up on YouTube.

I have not yet found any interviews of Aronofsky himself from Mexico, though NY1 did just post this profile of the director, which looks at his life and career and includes a few video clips that are, alas, available only to Time Warner Cable subscribers.

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Bible movie of the week: Jesus, the Spirit of God (2007)

Christians aren’t the only ones who hold Jesus in high esteem. Muslims do too, though they have radically different beliefs about him — and at least one movie has actually tried to dramatize those beliefs the same way other Bible movies have dramatized their own filmmakers’ beliefs.

But wait… is it right to call Jesus, the Spirit of God, an Iranian film produced in 2007, a “Bible movie”? Is not much of the film based on the Koran and other post-biblical sources, such as the late-medieval document known as the Gospel of Barnabas, rather than on the Bible itself?

Well, yes, the film is based on those other documents, but I’d still say it counts as a “Bible movie” on some level, inasmuch as many of its narrative elements can be traced back through those sources to the Bible itself. If we can accept Ben-Hur, which was based on a novel, or The Passion of the Christ, which was based on the visions of a 19th-century nun, as “Bible movies” because they contain elements that go back to the scriptures, then we can certainly put this film under the same broad umbrella.

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