Does the Noah Screenplay Sink or Float? Chattaway and Godawa Disagree.

Ray Winstone is Tubal-Cain in Aronofsky’s “Noah.”

“I don’t want to say too much about it here,” says Filmchat film critic Peter Chattaway after reading an early screenplay for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, “because it seems we’ve all read an earlier draft than the one that was used to make the actual film.”

Nevertheless, in a post of more than 1,700 words, he considers the script’s adaptation of the Biblical story and responds to the critiques delivered by screenwriter Brian Godawa (To End All Wars) and Hitfix film critic Drew “Moriarty” McWeeny. I’ve read those two reactions, but Chattaway — whose work I’ve been reading since the late ’90s — is a critic whose attention to detail is so exacting that I’m always surprised and impressed with his observations. I’ve been waiting for this.

Turns out — Chattaway and Godawa don’t agree.

…while Godawa does make some valid points about the film and its deviations from both scripture and Jewish tradition, there’s a big hole there in his critique of the film and the themes it develops. Or so I would argue, at any rate.

He adds,

Conservative Christian lobbyists like Movieguide founder “Dr.” Ted Baehr have already claimed that the film will be “incredibly redemptive” and “God-centered”, which strikes me as an oversimplification in the exact opposite direction.

Since the release of Pi, Aronofsky’s riveting, mind-bending debut, I’ve been fascinated by Aronofsky. I’ve been rather impressed with some of his films (Pi, Requiem for a Dream… and, of course, The Fountain, for which I interviewed him) and frustrated by others (Black Swan, The Wrestler). But all of these films are interesting and worth discussing. So I’ve been looking forward to seeing Noah. But now, for the first time, I can say I’m excited about the day when we are drawn, two by two (or otherwise), to theaters to see this one for ourselves.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Jon Land

    When I initially heard this was coming out I was curious and 1/2 way excited about it. But I hope that the screenplay changes from what Godawa has described. I’m so tired of the environmentalist message coming through a lot of the movies that we are seeing today when they really shouldn’t have anything to do with the movie that we are sitting there watching.

    From all the recounts that I have read of Noah’s story not once has it being an environmentalist story jumped out at me. People will see this I’m sure based on the familiarity of Noah’s name etc. But what they get inside, if it is as Godawa shared, is anything like that…then they will not get a true representation of the biblical story. And that is a shame.

    • jeffreyoverstreet

      I’m tired of Messages, period. Art should NOT be delivering messages. It should be inviting us to explore questions and ideas.

      I have nothing against “environmentalist messages” over any other messages, because human beings are more inclined to abuse their environment than to “subdue and replenish” it, to treat it as God’s art collection, to respect it as a language written by God that has been translated by poets and psalmists and Christ himself as a way in which God speaks clearly to us. When it comes to messages, I don’t think we get enough of them about the fragility of, and necessity of, our environment. How we treat nature is how we treat God’s gifts to us. To minimize nature in favor of “spiritual things” is a form of Gnosticism; nature is an embodiment of spiritual things.

      If filmmakers use the screen as a pulpit for any kind of message, they’re falling short of their function as artists. But if they can artfully invite us to see the beauty and meaning of creation, and inspire us toward wonder and respect for created things, then audiences will live with a greater awareness of creation, and treat the environment with appropriate reverence, responsibility, and imagination.

      • Jon Land

        Very good point Jeffrey. I didn’t mean to come across as be “anti” on the issue. After reading my post I can see it taken that way. haha

        But you are correct, too many times it is a “pulpit” of sorts that we spent our money to come in and listen to the message. The are of “entertaining” us as moviegoers is lost.


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