When plans to bring “Noah” to the big screen were announced, audiences worldwide were intrigued, to say the least. Despite the jaw-dropping success of 2004’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the industry had not followed suit with further films for the religious. With the announcement of “Noah,” however, it seemed Tinseltown had finally awoken to the idea that there is an audience for the-Bible-on-the-big-screen.
But woe unto him naive enough to believe Hollywood would be faithful to the tale of Noah (though no alterations were needed, really — the original is pretty exciting the way it is). The film reportedly focuses not on the Biblical story itself so much as on messages of environmentalism and overpopulation.
In some glitzy studio, the conversation was short:
“Hang on, there’s a flood? Interesting… And folks are doomed after not heeding the warnings of others? Doubly interesting. Gimme a minute… I’ve got it. This is a story about… climate change!”
Hollywood’s track record of spewing green movement hysteria via big-budget blockbusters is not great — but they’re nothing if not persistent. We have the King of Kings of green propaganda in 2004’s “The Day After Tomorrow,” a film so heavy-handed, corny, and suspension-of-disbelief-driven that it ironically rates a 10 on the sheer enjoyment, comedic scale. The burdened scientist who honorably tries and fails to warn the world about the error of our energy-guzzling, earth-destroying ways? The stubborn Republican white male politician (always played by a Dick Cheney lookalike) who scoffs and dismisses these warnings? All present. Heck, the film even manages to throw in a few digs at America’s immigration policy, concluding with a magnanimous, benevolent Mexico welcoming our tired and hungry across the Southern border into safety (the movie does not state whether Mexico, in this altered reality, tabled its notoriously-harsh, real-life treatment of immigrants. “Hey, gringos, that’s not what it’s like for us when we sneak into Mexico,” a Guatemalan muttered at a movie screen).
But who cares about track records with green films? It’s a “Biblical” film, the studio execs say, using air quotes and a wink. “Faithful audiences will flock to it and BOOM! Blockbuster-status!” Audiences get a 2-for-1 deal: an almost unrecognizable Noah and a lil’ environmental hand-wringing to go along with your overpriced popcorn.
Faith-based groups have hit back, however. With the controversy over whether it is an environmentalist film rather than the religious story of Noah, and rumors of tension between the studio and director Darron Aronofsky over the final cut, Paramount has finally decided to issue the following disclaimer:
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”
In other words, it’s about Noah only in the broadest sense, and if you want to experience the story of Noah, go read your Bible instead.
Well, that was awkward.
Consider how much things have changed. In 1959, MGM made cinematic history with the Oscars-sweeping box office blow-out “Ben-Hur,” portraying Jesus Christ’s impact and essence, as well as the strength and honor of the Jewish people in the face of occupying Rome, all told through one man’s hero journey. A 2010 Canadian remake, however, airing in the U.S. on ABC, omitted any references concerning Christ. You know, a movie based on the 19th century novel entitled, “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” just without of the Christ stuff!
“Noah’s” star, Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, has been on a curious one-man campaign to screen the film for Pope Francis who, Crowe believes, will dig the flick. On Twitter, I challenged Crowe to admit he had made an environmentalist film, not a religious one, to which he replied “Do you think it is possible to make a religious film without discussing the environment? Our creator gave us a garden….”
A reply, where I questioned the level of carbon emissions from alleged-environmentalist-Crowe’s private jet flights, earned me a derisive response. (That means yes, environmentalist-Crowe does fly private — and, of course, there are many Google Images of the actor doing just that.) The green ‘hippie-hypocrites’ tend to clam up and implode when their Achilles heel (private jet travel) reveals their faux concern about the planet’s health. The chutzpah in daring to push the green agenda, while being its most egregious offenders, is perhaps most condescending of all.
Crowe seems like a fine enough fellow and is surely a great thespian — but he’s peddling, albeit perhaps with best intentions, a dishonestly marketed product. Thankfully, the studio has at least now issued the small disclaimer.
Audiences should await further reviews of “Noah,” due out March 28th, and make their own decision before ponying up good money to see it.
Caveat emptor folks as, in this case, ‘Noah, servant of God,’ seems more ‘Noah, servant of Greenpeace.’