Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Noah... This Is God. Riiiiight.

That's a Bill Cosby reference for those who don't know. Anyways, it looks like Hollywood has done it again. After Mel Gibson showed them that there are billions of dollars waiting for anyone willing to make religious films, Hollywood set out to exploit this market. But their efforts haven’t been well received. Why? Because they keep messing with the message.

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.

Thoughts.

59 comments:

Koshcat said...

Sort of Gladiator 2: Maximus Vengence

tryanmax said...

I think my first clue was the choice to cast Russell Crowe as Noah. You don't cast a guy who wails on room service with a telephone to do meek and mild. Maybe they should've tapped Steve Carell to reprise his role from Evan Almighty.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Some are calling it that and I think even Crowe said the characters were similar (though that could have been someone else).

tryanmax said...

BTW, I would love to see that Obama biopic. Sorta like Hyde Park on Hudson meets 8 Mile.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, My first clue actually came from the first trailer which (accurately) appeared to show a massive LOTR-type battle. Then I saw the actors being sent out two by two to mislead the public and that's when it became obvious there was a problem.

I think that the film will do well at the Box Office because (1) Crowe draws audiences and this is what he does best -- period action pieces, and (2) they are selling this as an action adventure and there's not much else out right now that acts as competition. But I suspect this absolutely will not catch on with the Passion of the Christ circuit.

AndrewPrice said...

We should make the Obama biopic. I would start with something like Six Degrees of Separation to explain his background, and then mix it with Dumb and Dumber for when he signs up Biden, and then finish with Citizen Cane to cover the Obamacare years.

Anthony said...

Basing stories on religious texts is just asking for controversy. You'll get banned in Muslim countries and Christians will go after you for the inaccuracies if you are not a member of the faith in good standing (which earns one some slack).

If the producers of Noah were smart, they would have used the hundred million dollars to make a CGtastic fantasy movie. Same commercial prospects, less risk of backlash.

If you're making a Christian film for more than 20-30 million dollars (the budget of Passion of Christ, Son of God, Unstoppable, Fireproof) you're just spending money that doesn't need to be spent.

On a related note, while Noah sounds awful, generally speaking people that expect big budget historical movies to be faithful to the source material tend to walk out of theaters unhappy (I'm sure there is an exception to the rule, but I can't think of one).

Jason said...

I actually don’t have a problem with Russell Crowe’s casting as Noah. It probably does go against the grain of showing him as a meek, kind person, but on the other hand I wonder if you’re truly the “one man against the world” that you may need to be made of stern stuff. Even Charlton Heston was probably not the right choice to play Moses, as Moses was depicted as someone who was pretty lame at speaking, which is absolutely NOT Heston.

On the other hand, the things I’ve heard about Arnofsky’s Noah make him sound, as you said, like a monster, and even fanatical. The really bad religious films tend to depict Biblical figures as insane, unstable, or unreasonable zealots.

But also, Arnofsky’s environmental message doesn’t make any sense. In his movie, the primary sin of mankind is that he’s destroying the environment. So man, in this pre-pre-pre-pre industrial age has screwed up the planet so badly God is ready to wipe out nearly the whole race? Did man cause global warming with too many campfires? If Arnofsky wanted to do an environment movie, Noah is not the story he should have picked up.

Critch said...

Hollyweird generally gets it wrong, especially if the movie is about religion. I find it interesting that Sodomwood thinks nothing of trashing Christian sensitivities but they have never, never done a movie abouit Mohammed. And they won't. For as much as they bash us Catholics, we aren't likely to put on a suicide vest and walk into one of their studios...

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I think you're missing the point. While it is true that Hollywood never stays true to source material when doing a big budget epic, and regular audiences are typically ok with that, religious audiences are different. They don't see the source material as fiction to be massaged and changed as Hollywood sees fit to match their formula. They see this as fact... and not just fact, but "TRUTH!" So they see changes like these as an assault on their beliefs, not as an artistic choice.

And the result of that has been that these smaller, private films which try to remain more faithful to the spirit of the material will massively overperform and have exposed a massive audience for religious films -- the audience Hollywood is trying to reach now. BUT films like this one have no chance of catching on with that audience because they are essentially an insult.

That's why several of Hollywood's attempts to delve into religious films have fallen flat -- because they treated this stuff like fiction and they never realized that this huge invisible religious audience they are after wants their material respected.

In terms of controversy, keep in mind that Hollywood still believes that any publicity is good publicity. That's why they pillage existing works when they don't need to, because they are hoping to tap into existing audience.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, I don't have a problem with Crowe either. He can do pretty much any role. The problem comes once you start hearing the details. Noah is supposed to be meek, not an action hero. That was actually the very point to the story. If you swap Noahs in the Bible, then it wipes out the idea that God was cleaning up the earth as a judgment against man because God has basically picked the asshole action heroes to survive. "And the Steven Segals shall inherit the Earth." Really?

The really bad religious films tend to depict Biblical figures as insane, unstable, or unreasonable zealots.

In this case, Noah's decision to build the ark apparently comes from feverish visions, not from any sort of obvious communication from God. So yeah, once again he's an insane, unstable zealot. He just happens to be right.

Agreed about the environmental message. The only way this works is basically as the ultimate anti-human statement: the very existence of humans destroys nature, they must be eradicated. Sadly, that's actually far left environmental dogma. So that's probably the message Arnofsky’s sending.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, That's exactly it. Hollywood is a bully who likes to pick on targets they know can't/won't fight back. Then they call themselves brave for it.

KRS said...

I agree with Anthony's point that, with audiences of the faithful, you're just blowing money once you go above 30 million. These audiences are not much impressed with CGI and other expensive tricks, except when an Old Testament miracle is being depicted. They like meat and potatoes stories consistent with the biblical themes.

I actually think you can rework some of the material if you're true to the spirit. For example, the Prince of Egypt (1998), took a bunch of liberties by making Rameses and Moses close and loving brothers whose relationship is ripped by Moses calling and the plagues are mostly compressed into one musical montage. But, they were genuinely faithful to the spirit of the Old Testament and their modifications only made the story more intimate, heartbreaking and joyful.

And of course, there's Veggie Tales. They did Lord of the Beans, where Larry the Cucumber plays Ear-O-Corn and battles the Sporks. It was quite good.

BevfromNYC said...

Okay, I think that "Evan Almighty" was a really great modern re-telling of the Noah story. It has the meek and mild-mannered Evan/Noah who did not want to believe that God was talking to him and the nay-sayers who taunted him for building an ark etc.

Okay, you can beat me up now...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I enjoyed Evan Almighty. It was definitely meant as a comedy rather than a straight interpretation, but it was pretty funny and its heart was in the right place.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, I think that anything over 30 million is wasted on pretty much anyone. The number one complaint I hear from everyone is too much CGI, too much filler.

I definitely think there is room for interpretation and nuance in these things. But one thing you can't do when you are supposedly telling the story straight, is to make changes that go against the very nature of the characters and which would flip or undermine the very message of the piece.

KRS said...

Andrew - that's it exactly.

Btw, regarding the Cosby reference: That album is actually the first I ever bought and I listened to the Noah shtick over and over. Noah's complaints are great, especially when he's helping the elephant give birth.

Thanks for the ref - made me chuckle.

"Piiiiiiipes!"

Kit said...

"I actually think you can rework some of the material if you're true to the spirit. For example, the Prince of Egypt (1998), took a bunch of liberties by making Rameses and Moses close and loving brothers whose relationship is ripped by Moses calling and the plagues are mostly compressed into one musical montage. But, they were genuinely faithful to the spirit of the Old Testament and their modifications only made the story more intimate, heartbreaking and joyful.
"

KRS, And that song is a very good one. From what I've seen and remember of the movie, it did a good job summing things up despite the liberties.

Here is the song, by the way, "The Plagues": LINK

The songs in general are quite good.

Kit said...

Oh, and Bev, your statement about Evan Almighty is nothig compared to my heresy:
I found Ten Commandments to be kind of boring. Yes, the miracle scenes are amazing but the rest... meh.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go into hiding.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, A friend of mine had that album when I was young and we used to listen to it all the time. It's hilarious! I love his expressions, and his take on the whole thing. :D

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, A good song can hide a lot of things.

In terms of the Ten Commandments, it's a very straight telling. It feels incredibly literal with no attempt made to punch up the story with drama. I can respect it, but I don't necessarily enjoy it.

KRS said...

Kit - I agree the songs were great. The opening "Deliver Us" is very powerful and later, when Prince Moses has his nightmare to the same tune in hieroglyphs - that was fantastic imagery.

AndrewPrice said...

You know, on the plus side, this could have been worse. It could have been done by Peter Jackson. He would have done this over 3 books and added romances with characters who don't exist in the book.

"In the second movie, Moses and his girlfriend spend 3 hours touring an animal sanctuary run by that guy from The Matrix!"

Kit said...

"Deliver Us" is freakin' amazing.
LINK

"With the sting of the whip on my shoulder
With the salt of my sweat on my brow
Elohim, God on high
Can you hear your people cry:
Help us now
This dark hour..."

"My son, I have nothing I can give
But this chance that you may live
I pray we'll meet again
If He will deliver us"

Chills!

Anthony said...

Andrew,

I get that religious audiences won't tolerate what secular audiences tend to shrug off. That's why I think religious films are a minefield secular filmmakers (many of whom love to put their own stamp on films) are wise to avoid. Divergence will be viewed as attack.

Directors who can find funding for hundred million dollar movies have found massive success at one point in their career. 'Dancing with the one whut brung them' (one of my favorite phrases) makes much more sense than trying their hand at movies aimed at religious audiences.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's true, but the success of recent religious films has these same people looking to delve into that market because they see billion dollar profits. Unfortunately, they are coming in with exactly the wrong mindset.

In some instances, they will still make a killing. I suspect Noah will do really well from secular audiences. But they seem to be having more misses than hits trying.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, Russell Crowe has now say that the criticism leveled against the film is "bordering on stupidity."

That's another thing that really pisses me off. They send out these trained chimps like Crowe to lie to people and tell them the exact opposite of what they've done because they don't have the courage to be honest and say, "Yeah, I changed it." And then the chimps get nasty about it.

I hold the dishonesty in far greater contempt than the arrogance of deciding to "improve" a story that has withstood 2,000 years of telling.

tryanmax said...

...the arrogance of deciding to "improve" a story that has withstood 2,000 years of telling.

A perfect description.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks. I think it really comes down again to what they claim they are doing. If they want to make a flood film, then fine, make one. If they want to base it loosely on Noah, then knock yourself out. If they want to call it an alternative history, etc., that's fine too.

But to claim that they are making the story and then to butcher it is arrogance.

And frankly if I were a film director, I would love to attack some of their sacred cows in the same way and watch them squeal as reshape their favorite people into monsters.

Koshcat said...

What is sad is that they could have made a modern version with God fed up again with environmental destruction, war, poverty, Obamacare and decides to wipe things clean again. Ok to then to make the new "Noah" a little different but still there would need to be a reason to keep him. Honest, kind, good father. Of course they would probably make him a liberal asshole.

AndrewPrice said...

"I am Walter Peck. Do you have a permit to get on my ark?" ;-P

In all seriousness, they could have made the film straight, called it an alternate history and made it differently, called it something else and done whatever they want with it, or set it in modern times. Any of those choices would have avoided the controversy. But I suspect that the controversy was part of the sales pitch.

"If we can get enough of these superstitious morons to whine about what we've done to their story, then everyone will see it to see what we've done!"

I get the sense that is the ultimate goal of most remakes these days.

ScottDS said...

Yeah, if I were a filmmaker I'd probably steer clear of any Bible-based story because, as mentioned above, you're gonna piss off somebody out there. :-)

On that note, it'll be interesting to see how audiences greet Exodus, which Ridley Scott is currently directing with Christian Bale playing Moses.

And believe it or not, I once read a logline of a movie (which has NOT been made) about Jesus returning to Earth in the present where he gets a job as a carpenter... at IKEA. (Presumably, he helps some people in his off-hours.) Again, this film was never made and I have no idea who owns it or where it came from. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

You mean he fights crime in his spare time... like all heroes. :-)

IKEA? Then he couldn't be a carpenter. Perhaps he's a floor sample assembler?

Speaking of Ridley Scott, I've said this before, but I have a strong suspicion that he's actually fairly deeply religious, so I will be curious to see how much reverence he gives the story.

And I can't wait until they hire some hack to do a sequel: "Moses II: Into the Promised Land."

ScottDS said...

They've already hired some hack to write a Prometheus sequel. So there's that. :-)

I think Ridley Scott is also an atheist... but like religion, there could be varying degrees of atheism. Ridley doesn't strike me as one of the hateful ones.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't think he's an atheist. He's got too many films about God, and they all come out as pro-God. I have watched Prometheus many times now and the whole thing is a strong pro-God, anti-atheist film. Blade Runner is about God too and a denunciation of false Gods.

Kit said...

Interesting...

What would you say to those who have argued Kingdom of Heaven was anti-religious or at least anti-Christian.

Critch said...

The smartest person ever in movies was Louis Mayer. He was in the business of making movies that made money, if they didn't stand a good chance of making money, he didn't make them. I still don't think a movie should be considered for best picture unless it at least breaks even.

Tennessee Jed said...

I had heard this was supposed to be a big libral environmental agenda film. To bad, because I have enjoyed most of Russell Crowe's work, and can generally ovrlook his being an apparent assshole. Emma Watson is just as cute as can be. But, I am really at a point where bullcrap, even if done expensively or well, no longer interests me.

KRS said...

Kit - "Deliver Us" really delivers that punch in the gut when, to save him from certain death, a mother casts her son into the riverine wilderness in a basket on the faith that God would take care of him. That entire scene in the bible never really caught my attention because I knew how the story comes out. But, in the movie, you see it from the perspective of the mother's anguish and she never does see her son again - only his sister knows.

After their liberation, the song, "There can be Miracles," bookends the story really beautifully.

Kit said...

"Emma Watson is just as cute as can be."
Indeed she is. :-)

Kit said...

KRS,

"Deliver Us" is just one of those things Prince of Egypt does better Ten Commandments. The performances in Ten Commandments, and I blame Demille here, often come across as wooden. At least to me.

Some of the characters in Ten are downright annoying.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I would ask in what way? And I would respond with this:

First, it's roughly historically accurate (in a big picture, telescoped time sense). The whole Christian military industry of the time had devolved into nothing more than a set of corrupt lords who cloaked themselves under the banner of Christianity while doing very unChristian things. They betrayed each other and the Muslims crushed them.

It's not anti-Christian to tell the truth about bad people who have misappropriated the name of Christianity as a shield for their own evil deeds.

Secondly, the only guy with real faith is the one who guy who survives, expresses horror at the abuses he sees, and never renounces his faith even as he renounces the bad guys around him. That's a pretty strong statement again.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, The problem with that is that marketing more than film quality tends to control how much money a movie will make. That's why something as noxious as Avatar can make so much money.

Kit said...

"roughyl historically accurate". LOL! About the best you can say of a movie.

I think it was called anti-Christian because it portrayed the Crusaders as being bad and was sympathetic toward the Muslim leader Saladin.

Now that I think about it, the movie was quite sympathetic towards the Christian king of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV, who is depicted as having to deal with criminals and fanatics threatening to ruin the peace he has crafted.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, "roughly" in the sense that it compresses events that happened over several hundred years and jams them all together and assigns them to characters who may not have existed at the same time.

That's true. There is a school of "thought" that holds that anything less than a total 100% whitewash and glorification of all things I like is an attack on me. But those people are morons.

Consider this. Think about the three characters who get sympathetic portrayals: (1) The good King of Jerusalem who is a believer but is caught between a bunch of crooks and nuts and tries to maintain balance. (2) Legolas, who is a true believer and can't believe the insane un-Christian crap going on in the Holy land... an orgy of theft, murder and betrayal. (3) Saladin, a Muslim true believer who history says was responding to repeated Crusader attacks on Muslim pilgrims and caravans, and who was apparently a capable, honorable and reasonable general who did not needlessly spill blood and who even returned Christian property in some instances when asked to do so.

Now compare that with the bad guys, who are blood thirsty thieves and thugs who only use their religions as a tool to motivate their followers to act like pirates.

So what is the ultimate message? It seems pretty clear that the message is that religion is good when it's done the right way, but it's horrible when bad people claim it and misuse it to their own ends. That's not an anti-religious or anti-Christian message.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I've enjoyed Crowe's work and I haven't seen any real political statements, so I doubt I would hold this film against him. Still, it doesn't make me inclined to see it.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, BTW, this is from the Wikipedia on Saladin. It fits with things I've read and seen on the History Channel:

---------------------------------------------

His fierce struggle against the crusaders and his prodigality were where Saladin achieved a great reputation in Europe as a chivalrous knight, so much so that there existed by the fourteenth century an epic poem about his exploits. Though Saladin faded into history after the Middle Ages, he appears in a sympathetic light in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's play Nathan the Wise (1779), and in Sir Walter Scott's novel The Talisman (1825). It is mainly from these texts that the contemporary view of Saladin originates. According to Jonathan Riley-Smith, Scott's portrayal of Saladin was that of a "modern [19th Century] liberal European gentlemen, beside whom medieval Westerners would always have made a poor showing." Despite the Crusaders' slaughter when they originally conquered Jerusalem in 1099, Saladin granted amnesty and free passage to all common Catholics and even to the defeated Christian army, as long as they were able to pay the aforementioned ransom (the Greek Orthodox Christians were treated even better, because they often opposed the western Crusaders). An interesting view of Saladin and the world in which he lived is provided by Tariq Ali's novel The Book of Saladin.

Notwithstanding the differences in beliefs, the Muslim Saladin was respected by Christian lords, Richard especially. Richard once praised Saladin as a great prince, saying that he was without doubt the greatest and most powerful leader in the Islamic world. Saladin in turn stated that there was not a more honorable Christian lord than Richard. After the treaty, Saladin and Richard sent each other many gifts as tokens of respect, but never met face to face. In April 1191, a Frankish woman's three month old baby had been stolen from her camp and had been sold on the market. The Franks urged her to approach Saladin herself with her grievance. According to Bahā' al-Dīn, Saladin used his own money to buy the child back.

shawn said...

Andrew said- "But to claim that they are making the story and then to butcher it is arrogance."

I almost never get that with Hollywood. And not just about the Bible, but any story or novel. I can't picture the so called creative types saying, "Ooooooo, I really enjoyed this book, let's make it into a movie and change most of the things about the book that people enjoyed". I understand that time constraints will result in parts of the book/story being cut or streamlined, but making up new stuff- heresy!

Case in point: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In it Harry has a challenge to rescue a golden egg away from a dragon that is chained to a rock in a stadium. He summons his broom and flies circles about it, nearly getting bitten and burned to death and eventually swoops in and grabs the egg. I found it to be quite thrilling because it was a confined space and so he was forced to stay close to the dragon and danger, but it was witnessed by his fellow students and the teachers, so they could come to his aid if he was injured.

What did the movie do? The dragon breaks free and they have a chase sequence that leads back to the castle a mile or more away, under no supervision by fellow students or staff. While entertaining, it lacked the danger of being up close in a limited space.

Now sometimes you will hear the film-makers claim- "It was un-filmable" about whatever part they changed or cut, but I think in many cases that is wogwash and that like you said, they just want to put their stamp on the work. Make it their own, so to say.

On the other hand, I must admit that I have been toying with the idea of re-writing Return of the Jedi to deal with all the crap Lucas put in there that I didn't like- so maybe I can understand the heretical impulse.

John Jameson said...

Maybe the filmmakers were trying to create a version of "Noah" which is more faithful to the Mesopotamian epics of Ziusudra, Gilgamesh and Atrahasis on which the Noah story may be based? :)

Altering (hi)stories is almost as old a tradition as telling them.

(I hope future historians do not mistake 2012 for our version of the flood myth - that would be really embarrassing.)

AndrewPrice said...

John, That would be kind of funny actually: "What are all these Christians and Muslims upset about? They what? They think it's that Noah? Hell no! We're doing the story of Noah Washington. You know. The guy who owned the pet store on 53rd that flooded."

Let us hope that no one in the future thinks that we took 2012 seriously.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I don't actually have a problem with them changing films. My problem is with the dishonesty. IF you want to change it then have the courage to stand up and admit that, "I made changes I thought would make this a better story." What bothers me is how they lie and claim they stuck to the source material almost word for word and then send out actors and publicists to attack people who point out their lies.

We wouldn't accept that from GM, we shouldn't accept it from Hollywood.

As an aside, I'll bet you that if they had to be truthful, they would either make fewer changes or would feel more free to create something original... either of which would be a better result.

tryanmax said...

I think the name Gilgamesh has enough recognition to promote a blockbuster. The choice of Noah says a lot of the producers' intent.

T-Rav said...

Firstly, Obama does actually sell crack out of the White House. I don't recommend it, though, because he mixes in ordinary chalk and it messes with your head and....and I've said too much.

Secondly, to the topic at hand, I can't say I'm that worked up by it, because I didn't plan on seeing it anyway, and I kinda figured they would screw it up somehow. I like Crowe and all the other actors involved, so that might have motivated me, but probably not. However, given that the producers commented recently that they were more interested in getting non-religious people to watch the movie, I'm left wondering, why did they bother making the movie at all?

PikeBishop said...

I'm going to make a small suggestion to Andrew and everyone here. Go and read "The Preservationist" by David Maine. That is the book that they should have used to make "Noah." It's a wonderful little tome that is one of the best philosophical novels I have ever read.

All of you talking about "meek and mild" Noah need to see how he is characterized as a crotchety 600 year old man, weary and sad at how far Bronze Age humanity had fallen, whose Grandfather remembered Adam. This could have been a great character for Russell Crowe to inhabit. A conflicted human being, not a saintly caricature or a walking stereotype.

And it is also the best attempt to describe the myth (Yes, I said it, don't stone me) if it had actually happened as the Bible says. For instance: Where did he get all that wood? Why he made a deal with the giants of course. The wife, the sons and the daughters in law are all given life and are vivid characters. The DILs even ask some of the best questions and make some of the great observations: "Just like a male god. Drown your children in the tub as a way of loving them."

I first saw it recommended on Elizabeth Scalia's "The Anchoress" blog and she's a devout Catholic.

Run, don't walk to find a copy of this wonderful little novel.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Two excellent points. I'll leave the first to history... and video surveillance.

On the second, it raises a really good question why they would make a film that doesn't accurately tell the story with the intent of selling it to non-believers.

Firstly, I would assume that is a lie. I would assume they were going for the religious audience, but pushed too far and got caught and everything they say now is spin meant to rescue the situation. But let's assume it's not. They only reason I can see to do that would be to mislead nonbelievers as to what the believers believe. I suppose they could argue they were trying to bring in nonbelievers to make them believers, but why distort the message to do that? Also, that certainly doesn't fit the insulting tone of the interviews. Indeed, Crowe's most recent interview makes it plain that the filmmakers are telling the truth and those pesky believers who say they aren't should be dismissed as "stupid." Sounds like propaganda to me. And again, I wonder how this would be taken by the left if we did it to some of their sacred cows.

John Jameson said...

Unfortunately, Tryanmax, the "Noah" character in the Gilgamesh version is called "Utnapishtim", which further shows that scriptwriters who should have been sacked are as old as history. :)

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Thanks! I've never heard of that. I'll check it out.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Kit, concerning Ridley Scott and Kingdom of Heaven, I think how you evaluate its message on religion depends on your answer as to which "abuses" of religion the movie was criticizing. On the one hand, there's the violence and corruption being practiced by Crusader leaders, something which even many twelth-century European Christians complained about, and which I believe was portrayed fairly accurately. To that extent, Andrew's argument is on pretty solid ground. On the other hand, the religious beliefs of the protagonists are a bit...novel, shall we say, for this setting. Orlando Bloom's character is probably a "Christian," I would guess, but I don't recall him making any firm statements in this regard, and near the end, he expresses cynicism towards organized religion in general. Similarly, Jeremy Irons shows disillusionment with crusading in any sense of the word; as for Saladin, he pretty much says that he doesn't even care about Jerusalem. Plus, the "kingdom of heaven" is symbolized most vividly in Bloom's little fiefdom, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims all coexist in harmony and don't push their beliefs on each other, blah blah blah.

On the basis of the content in this and other movies, I would say Scott is not an atheist, but rather a guy who falls into that comfortable, nondescript "spiritual but not religious" category. That's the vibe I get from his work. I doubt he intended a deliberate anti-Christian message in his work, and if his criticisms were only meant to touch on the failings of the Crusader leaders, well, there's nothing controversial there (or at least there shouldn't be). But if he intended to set forth a multicultural, spiritualist ideal against the universalist claims of Christianity (and for that matter, Judaism and Islam), well, that would cut well against the grain of the faith, especially its medieval manifestation.

And I don't even remember why I started writing this. Anyway, I recommend watching Kingdom of Heaven just to see the awesome re-creation of the siege of Jerusalem. Maybe just take the talk on faith with a grain of salt.

PikeBishop said...

Probably the greatest Crusade historian alive, Jonathan Riley Smith, called Kingdom of Heaven "Osama bin Laden's view of history." Priests are shown looting the dead; Muslims are only shown at prayer reverantly, never commiting any bad deeds.

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