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What they're saying about Noah

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Darren Aronofksy's biblical epic Noah was this biggest box office draw this past weekend bringing in $44 million at the box office far surpassing the projected $30 million. [Christianity Today] The Paramount Pictures film stars Russell Crow, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Nick Nolte and Emma Watson and was directed by Aronofsky, also known for Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan.

Aronofsky wrote in The Huffington Post, "Noah is a story of man's sin and God's judgment. It is a story of our tendency to fall into wickedness, and of the challenge to live in accordance with our better natures. It is a story of falling short of our responsibilities, of taking the beauty that has been entrusted to our care and corrupting it. But it is also a story of hope, a story of the possibility of change, a story of mercy."

However, Noah is not without controversy ever since the script was leaked in 2012. Whether it's the criticism for making Noah the first "environmentalist" or the liberties and additions taken to the orginal biblical text, reviews and opinions are mixed.

Here are some of the things being said about Noah.

According to The Wall Street Journal, "Three Arab countries are even refusing to release the movie: Muslims revere Noah as a prophet and some consider using images of sacred figures sacrilegious."

David Horsey writes in The Los Angeles Times, "If Glenn Beck has his way, no right thinking person will go see the movie. The eccentric conservative TV and radio commentator has told his followers, “I hope that Noah is a massive failure.” Without actually viewing the film, Beck has dismissed it as two hours of “dangerous disinformation” that portrays Noah as a drunk with an environmentalist agenda."

John Kennedy, who writes the Faith, Media & Culture column for Beliefnet.com describes Noah as "a science-fiction movie with some biblical overtones," but says it ultimately is standard Hollywood fare. [USATODAY] Kennedy says "I've only cooled to it since viewing it. The more I think about it, the less I like it."

Kat Butler writes at Movie Guide, "I am concerned about other new-age elements and symbols that permeate the narrative, too: the pyramid of strings (made by Methuselah, playing with Noah’s son); the re-occurring imagery of the one, all-seeing eye; the allusion to the third eye when the last demon rips open his chest, etc."

Matt Walsh says, "Noah is a major Hollywood blockbuster, made by an atheist director best known for his previous flick where a mentally disturbed lesbian ballerina goes insane and bleeds to death on stage. Already, a critical person might be slightly concerned about his handling of the Bible, considering what he just did to the ballet...These concerns grew from suspicion to reality before it was even released, when the man himself came out publicly and professed Noah to be both an environmentalist propaganda piece, and the “least Biblical” Bible film ever made."

Michael Gerson writes in The Washington Post, "In Noah, the main character is a brooding, misanthropic vegan. One hopes that Russell Crowe, a fine actor, does not end up being typecast a la Charlton Heston. There just aren’t many parts for brooding, misanthropic vegans. The movie itself consists of tedium punctuated by anachronism, sanctimony and animated rock people. It contains just enough spiritual pretention to make you wonder afterward if you have missed something important. You haven’t. The movie’s guiding philosophy — civilization bad, nature good — is as complex as the one in Disney’s Pocahontas. With worse music and more cannibalism."

Carla Hinton writes, "They didn’t need the kooky implausible twists — that are NOT in the biblical story — to garner drama. No babies held at knife point, no irrational Noah, no 'Son of Cain' hiding out in the ark, killing animals one by one for appetizers. Funny thing is they had decent actors to tell this story but so much for them This film should have been named No Noah."

But not all Christians have been critical of Noah.

Focus on the Family's Plugged In review says, "Director Darren Aronofsky offers a spectacular and often moving story, but it's obviously not the story of Noah. There's more Tolkien than Torah here, really, and more of Aronofsky himself than both of those. Perhaps this director made the Creator in his own image—full of mercy, magic and environmental sobriety. If you uncouple the movie from the Bible and take Noah as imaginative, fantastic fiction, it can begin to work. But hooked as it is to such a sacred narrative, well, let's just say it'll be hard for some Christians to swallow whole this fractious fable."

But Plugged In also notes, "Still, Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, believes there is redemption to be found. 'Darren Aronofsky is not a theologian, nor does he claim to be,' Daly says. 'He is a filmmaker and a storyteller, and in Noah, he has told a compelling story. The film expresses biblical themes of good and evil; sin and redemption; justice and mercy. It is a creative interpretation of the scriptural account that allows us to imagine the deep struggles Noah may have wrestled with as he answered God's call on his life. This cinematic vision of Noah's story gives Christians a great opportunity to engage our culture with the biblical Noah, and to have conversations with friends and family about matters of eternal significance.'"

Cal Thomas writes, "After decades in which Hollywood mostly ignored or stereotyped faith, Christians should be happy they have gotten the film industry's attention. Successful films like The Passion of the Christ, The Bible and Son of God prove that such stories "sell." Instead of nitpicking over Noah, the Christian community should not only be cheering, but buying tickets to encourage more such movies. Hollywood may not always get it right, but that's not the point. They are getting something and that sure beats not getting anything, or getting it completely wrong as in Martin Scorsese's blasphemous, The Last Temptation of Christ.

James Tabor, Professor of Ancient Religions and Bible from Charlotte, North Carolina writes in The Huffington Post, "None of these Christian critics explain why this ancient story, written by Jews, and part of the Hebrew Bible, should fall under Christian purview or guardianship in terms of its interpretation. But that aside, these two Jewish guys, Aronofsky and his former Harvard roommate and writing partner, Ari Handel, in aiming for what they call the "least biblical" of Bible themed films, have ended up in my view producing a film that profoundly reflects biblical themes that have been lost in most common readings of the Noah story in Genesis 6-9."

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