Exodus: Gods and Kings: the “faith-based” interviews

exodus-scott-bale-2Life got crazy busy around the time Exodus: Gods and Kings came out, and frankly I found the movie itself kind of dispiriting, so I haven’t been as up-to-date with the links and things as I would have liked to have been. But I hope to do a bit of catching up in the next little while, before the film fades entirely from view.

First up, some links to the interviews that director Ridley Scott and co-stars Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton did with the “faith-based” media. Exodus may be the first major Bible production since The Passion of the Christ for which I wasn’t able to snag an interview myself, but a few of my colleagues got to speak to the filmmakers after the film’s New York premiere.

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Should Bible movies be relegated to the Christian ghetto?

exodus-moses-ramses-2The soft opening for Exodus: Gods and Kings last week has prompted a number of think pieces, asking what Hollywood could do better the next time it turns to the Bible for source material.

One such piece appeared in Variety last Sunday, and it’s… problematic.

For starters, it almost seems to suggest that Hollywood should focus on making low-budget movies for the Christian ghetto, i.e. films like Son of God and God’s Not Dead, which cost very little to make and were thus profitable in the U.S. even though they earned almost nothing overseas.

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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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How I helped Jon Stewart get one of his Noah facts wrong

Of all the controversies that have swirled around Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, by far the dumbest is the one that erupted over the claim that the dialogue in this film never uses the word “God”.

Last night Jon Stewart tackled this subject in a segment called ‘Haters of the Lost Ark’. And along the way, he repeated a claim that I and others have made in the film’s defense — a claim that, I’m afraid, might have been mistaken.

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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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Second impressions: Noah (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2014)

The first time I saw Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, I took six pages of notes, and I watched it with the memory of an early draft of the screenplay lingering in my brain. So I was distracted on at least two levels: by a need to jot down as many quotes and facts as I could, and by an awareness of how the script had evolved. Never mind people who obsess over how the film may or may not have deviated from Genesis; I kept thinking of how the film was deviating from that early script!

Needless to say, I don’t normally take that kind of background knowledge to the theatre when I go to see a movie, and I knew it wouldn’t be fair to Noah to hold that knowledge against it either. I also knew I needed to just sit back and watch the movie like a proper movie, to bask in the drama and let it unfold.

And so, on Wednesday morning, I saw the film a second time. And I can think of no better way to sum up the difference between my two viewings of the film than to say that I didn’t cry at all the first time I saw Noah, but I shed tears on a few separate occasions the second time I saw it. It’s a powerful, powerful film.

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