The latest example of this is the film Noah, which is making the rounds now. This film has pissed off bunches of Christian and Muslim groups – Muslims apparently consider Noah a prophet. It’s gotten so bad actually that the film team has sent out their cast to do damage control.
This may sound familiar. Whenever a film angers people who love some “property,” they trot out the actors to assure everyone that they have stuck strictly to the source material, and those complaining are just crazy whiners. Hence, the cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings ran around swearing that they all carried copies of The Lord of the Rings with them on set and that if there was some dispute about how the book went compared to the script, they would sit down and make sure they followed the book precisely. Yeah, that was a lie.
When Nicole Kidman starred in The Golden Compass, she actually ran around telling people how Catholic she was and how she would never ever ever do any film that was anti-Catholic or which promoted atheism. That was a lie too. In fact, while she was saying this, the writer-director was busy assuring the atheist community that he would not water down the book’s anti-Catholic, pro-atheist messages. And indeed, he didn’t.
There are many other examples, particularly involving religious films, where Hollywood puts out a film that is so not what the Bible says or what Christians believe yet they swear on their dark little hearts that those people complaining are the crazies. And that brings us to Noah.
You know the story of Noah, right? Noah was a meek man who was contacted by God to build an ark. I believe he sold insurance. Humanity had gone awry and God intended to wash the evil out of them with extreme prejudice. Noah was told to build an ark and fill it with heterosexual livestock. Noah was in a bit over his head, but he managed. He also tried to warn those around him, but they wouldn’t listen because they was busy fornicatin’. Then bamo! God goes all Erwin Allen! Rain, floods, evildoers washed away... the slate is wiped clean. Finally, the waters recede. Noah lands his Ark in Turkey and he opens the doors to release the animals and the people to go forth and never do evil again.
That’s basically the story that billions of people know and believe. That’s the story you get from the Bible and the Koran (with a few “dirty infidels!” thrown in). But that’s not the story Hollywood made.
From quotes gleaned from people who’ve seen the film and from the cast, this Noah is a Biblical grade ASSHOLE. Seriously, he’s a monster. At one point, his son even rebels against him, saying, “I thought you were chosen because you were kind.” To which, Noah like the Dark Knight responds, “I was chosen because I can get the job done.” Seriously, could anyone in their right mind picture Noah as the Dark Knight? He’s supposed to be meek and kind. He’s supposed to be out of his league. He spends his time trying to warn all the people who mock him as if he were in Revenge of the Nerds. That's part of the message -- that God picks people you overlook to deliver his message. Noah is not a bad-ass action hero. Nor is he a colossal jerk. Interestingly, they also never use the word “God” in this film.
So why would Russell Crowe act the character this way? Why would director Darren Arnofsky allow/choose this? Because to them, these stories are fiction. To Christians and Muslims, they are fact. And that difference is key. If these stories are fiction, then you can improve them and make them more entertaining. Sure, let’s make Noah into a warrior or King of the Assholes, it will add some great fight scenes when he holds off the Orc invaders and it will add dramatic gold when he reconciles with his gay son... I smell an Oscar. But if you see these stories as fact, then any change is an affront to reality. Making changes or filling in the gaps with obviously fake “interpretations” is as fraudulent and insulting to you as it would be to liberal Baby Boomers to add a gay sex shower scene to a JFK biography or have Obama selling crack out the back of the White House in his inevitable biography.
That’s really what’s going on here. When Hollywood has made religious films that stick to the material, no matter how messed up that material may seem to nonbelievers, the believers have responded with an outpouring of love and cash. But when they’ve treated these stories as fiction to be massaged, they’ve failed.
And then to send out the cast and lie about what they’ve done just adds insult to injury.