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 flicking its tongue at the camera. And it is 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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Noah music round-up: a featurette on Clint Mansell’s score, an interview with Patti Smith, and… a CCM music video?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been listening to Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah quite a bit since it came out last week. Intimate at times, big and bombastic at other times, it captures the emotional journey of the film rather well. Now Paramount has released a “featurette” on the soundtrack — more of an ad for it, really — and a few websites have posted interviews with Mansell and with Patti Smith, who wrote the film’s theme song ‘Mercy Is’. Plus we now have a music video of sorts with quotes about the film from church leaders and Christian film critics, all set to a praise-and-worship song. Check it all out below the jump.

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Noah news round-up: the studio executives speak, what it all might mean for other Bible movies, and early Oscar buzz?

So, Noah had a great first weekend in North America and many other territories. How did it do so well? What are the film’s prospects going forward? And what does this bode for other possible Bible movies?

First, Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore — who attends a Vineyard church in Los Angeles — has given a few interviews commenting on how his studio beat some of the controversy that some people had whipped up in the months leading up to the film’s release.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, he said a key “turning point” came when the studio openly admitted that the film was “inspired by” the Bible story but was not a “literal” version of it, whatever that would mean. He also commented on how the film has been received by different communities:
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No, Noah is not Gnostic. (Say that ten times fast!)

Thanks to a lengthy blog post by Brian Mattson, a theologian with the the Center for Cultural Leadership in California, the latest meme to work its way into public discussion of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is that the film is somehow Gnostic, and that it presents a worldview in which God is really Satan and vice versa.

Is there anything to Mattson’s claims? Not really, and here’s why.

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Behold the concept art for the Watchers of Noah!

Love ’em or hate ’em, one thing people can’t stop talking about after seeing Noah is the Watchers — angels who fell to Earth, lost their wings, and were encased in the molten rock that they crashed into.

In the early screenplay that leaked a couple years ago, and in the graphic novel that came out two weeks ago, the Watchers are basically organic; the screenplay describes them as “18 feet tall, ageless, sexless and covered with a light dusting of fur.”

But somewhere along the way, Darren Aronofsky turned them into rock monsters, spirits trapped in the rock they crashed into, whose struggle to rise from the tar was inspired by the wildlife covered in oil after the Exxon Valdez spill.

Paramount has studiously avoided releasing any official images of these creatures — even going so far as to delete them from shots that were used in the the trailers and early clips — but director Darren Aronofsky has not been so reticent, tweeting images of actors and voice-over artists standing in front of screens bearing images of the Watchers (or, as Aronofsky now prefers to call them, the Nephilim).

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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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