What Should Moviegoers Expect from ‘Noah’?


The latest controversial movie to test the old showbiz axiom “all publicity is good publicity” is the forthcoming film Noah from director Darren Aronofsky. The reported $125 million action epic marks his first foray into big-budget, CGI-spectacle territory. Until now, Aronofsky has worked exclusively on smaller, grittier independent fare such as Black Swan, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler.

The controversy revolves around how audiences with a faith-based background, be it Christian or Jewish, are likely to respond to Aronofsky’s re-imagining of the story of Noah as told in Genesis. Early screenings of the unfinished film to both of those audiences yielded significant criticism. Kim Masters of the Hollywood Reporter writes:

The trouble began when Paramount, nervous about how audiences would respond to Aronofsky’s fantastical world and his deeply conflicted Noah, insisted on conducting test screenings over the director’s vehement objections while the film was a work in progress. Friction grew when a segment of the recruited Christian viewers, among whom the studio had hoped to find Noah’s most enthusiastic fans, questioned the film’s adherence to the Bible story and reacted negatively to the intensity and darkness of the lead character.

The nervous studio responded by testing another half-dozen different cuts of the film—none of which tested any more positively among the target audiences than Aronofsky’s version did. In the end, he was given the greenlight to produce the final cut of the film on his own terms. In his first interview about the film’s rocky production, Aronofsky acknowledges, “I was upset, of course. No one’s ever done that to me.”

 Internal resolution notwithstanding, however, speculation has continued to swirl regarding the way Christian audiences are likely to react to the film.

This week, the Hollywood trade publication Variety reported on an online survey conducted by the site faithdrivenconsumer.com. The survey is titled: “Noah Movie Controversy?” and asks, “As a Faith Driven Consumer, are you satisfied with a Biblically themed movie—designed to appeal to you—which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?” Variety reported that 98% of respondents answered “No” to that question and framed the story as an ominous sign for a studio that’s depending on Christian moviegoers to cover its nine-digit monetary investment.

Shortly after the story was published, Paramount took what’s being characterized as an unusual step of releasing its own internal data about potential faith-based viewers. The studio cited a survey from the Barna Group (among other things), which said that 86% of Christians polled who were aware of the film would recommend it to their friends.

It remains to be seen, of course, how faith-oriented audiences will respond to Aronofsky’s take on Noah. What is safe to say, however, is that his vision of Noah and the will be unlike any we’ve ever seen before.

In his conversation about the film with the Hollywood Reporter, Aronofsky, who’s Jewish, said of his approach to the iconic story:

“We wanted to smash expectations of who Noah is. The first thing I told [actor] Russell [Crowe] is, ‘I will never shoot you on a houseboat with two giraffes behind you.’ … You’re going to see Russell Crowe as a superhero, a guy who has this incredibly difficult challenge put in front of him and has to overcome it. … For people who are very literal-minded, it would be great to communicate that the themes of the film are very much in line with the themes of the Bible—ideas about hope, second chances and family. If they allow that, they’re going to have an incredible experience with the movie. If they don’t allow it, it’s theirs to lose.”

Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore, whom the Hollywood Reporter characterizes as “one of the few top Hollywood executives who identifies as a devout Christian,” said that compared to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s History Channel miniseries The Bible and the upcoming theatrical release of Son of God, Aronofsky’s approach is less literal and more “creative.”

“They’ve been very effective in terms of communicating to and being embraced by a Christian audience. This movie has a lot more creativity to it. And therefore, if you want to put it on the spectrum, it probably is more accurate to say this movie is inspired by the story of Noah. [But the story reflects] the key themes of the Noah story in Genesis—of faith and hope and God’s promise to mankind. … Our anticipation is that the vast majority of the Christian community will embrace it.”

After Noah docks at theaters on March 28, we should know fairly quickly whether Christians are flooding into theaters to see it … or streaming in the other direction due to lingering concerns about the film’s faithfulness to—or deviation from—its scriptural roots.


Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

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Jay Wood More than 1 year ago

I am severely disappointed with this film.  I am fairly open-minded to a certain level of 'creative liberties' and much like other films, was eager to see the creator's interpretation/take on the story.  This went way over the line.  There are very specific things that actually offended and borderline angered me.  Despite wanting to walk out of the theater a few times, I remained in my seat to say that I watched it all the way through to give it a chance for redemption.

I can appreciate and actually enjoy seeing a different spin on the usual stories we are accustom to conjuring up in our minds when we think of specifics.  I didn't mind the look of an almost pre-historic style mad max-esque civilization.  I didn't mind that there were tools, clothing, etc that I would wager weren't around for thousands of years to come.

I did however draw issue with the idea that Noah required an hallucinogen to see and understand God's message to him.  I had an issue with the 1980's claymation quality "Fallen Angels" helping Noah and still acknowledging God in a positive way.  I'm pretty sure that it's standard across the board regardless of denomination, that "Fallen Angel" tends to refer to demon.  Hence my surprise when they were pivotal to the success of Aronofsky's Noah.  I was abysmally displeased with the story of creation where the earth came to being with what overtly looked like the big bang, as well as the depiction of life on earth coming from an evolved organism, to fish, to lizard, etc.  I also didn't like that Noah came off as a psycho who couldn't communicate with God at all etc.

There are so many inaccuracies in this movie, that I am quiet literally unable to understand how one could ever even classify it as "Christian Cinema".  On the contrary, there is enough in this movie (in my opinion) to actually classify it as "anti-Christian".  It's a slap in the face to Christians everywhere to claim that the Christian community would welcome this with open arms, and open wallets, and ever more laughable that paramount thinks that it would receive any type of positive recommendations from said community.

I wouldn't recommend this to any Christians.  Further to that, I would especially not recommend it to any non-believers as I would be too embarrassed by the flagrant disregard for scripture in the film, and how distant it is from my own beliefs.

The Bible is not a "fluffy, feel good" book filled with likewise stories.  It doesn't need Hollywood to change the story so drastically that it misses the story completely.

Not impressed at all.  Garbage movie.

Dan Rowe More than 1 year ago

--Just saw it. DO NOT take kids under 13. Very violent. Not biblically accurate.  If you like bloodshed, magic talking rock creatures, mutiny at sea, and mystic illuminating pebbles, this is the fantasy flick for you. Otherwise, this is a waste of money and time. I feel like I want my money and time back.....

gail adams More than 1 year ago

--Took my family of 4 to see Noah without checking reviews first. We all wish we had. It just really twisted the heart of the event, not just adding creative input, but changing the facts completely, trying to combine Noah and Abraham, just unbelievably odd. A dose of evolution and environmental concerns thrown in. Wanted to see the end like a desire to see a train wreck in action, but had to miss the very end to take a 7 1/2 year old out (who could handle other movies with this rating) because the loud theatrics were overwhelming and honestly didn't want him confused! It was a total mess. The Evan Almight movie was much more biblically accurate. (I enjoyed that one!)

Kelly Hudspeth More than 1 year ago

--The movie "Noah" is similar to the movie "Titanic"-- a fictionalized story set in an historical event.  As long as people recognize that and align their expectations accordingly, they may enjoy it.  (depending on whether or not the movie and acting is good)  I am in favor of movies that entice a viewer to 'read the book', so I suppose this is no exception.  If this movie was an attempt at a "biblical" or "Christian" movie, then sadly, it will fall short.  

lukius prastowo More than 1 year ago

--You are all lucky my American friends..Despite of any criticism or tributes for the movies..still U can watch it..

This good movie is banned in all of  movie theater in Indonesia (hope imy country won't become Indonistan in the future)  ..It seems that every public officials wants to get their ass safe before incoming election..

Need your prayers thus the best candidate that support democracy may win in Indonesia..

Anyway, where can I download this movie?

Matthews Eric More than 1 year ago

--Why "Gospel of John" is now my favorite Bible movie: It was literal as it could get and it proved it could work.

streven hollingsworth More than 1 year ago

--As a bible believing christian I always take exception when anything is changed from the biblical account. There is plenty of space to add things that can enhance the story and support the bibical account but no excuse to do anything that takes away from the way the bible states it. I actually could not bring myself to watch the series "the bible" because of may liberties taken that could not be support by the bible. What a wasted opportunity.

MommaG Parsley More than 1 year ago

--While I can appreciate theater taking creative license in filming making, the film industry as a whole must realize who their audience actually is if they want to make a profit.  There is an enormous market for authentic scriptural movies. The audience in question is the conservative right who appreciates authenticity to the scriptures.  Low budget films have done great because they stay true to scripture and still provide a context for entertainment. Just food for thought....  

Troy Curtis More than 1 year ago

--I need to see more of a review on this movie. What I have heard is that there is a strong, "Global Warming, save the earth but not the people" kind of message in the movie. God tells Noah the reason he is destroying mankind is because man has failed to take care of the earth. I am not sure if this is true of the movie, but if it is then it will not be a movie worth watching.  

Sam Pickett More than 1 year ago

--I am a Christian and I am not threatened by comments that this movie might be inaccurate. Do you know your Bible? Then don't worry, are you glad that a movie has been made that is at least Biblical in name? I am, did you go see Monuments Men? I bet most Christians watch movies on at least a weekly basis that are so worldly it would make you sick, so go see it with a non-believer. Take the opportunity to share God and point it to your friends and family where it missed the mark. Are you ruined by seeing it. I am pumped to go see it. God is good, make it a chance to show people more than what we are against, which turns the non believer against hearing anything about God. Spread the light, this world is dark enough. God Bless, if this movie makes a hit, maybe it would open the door for more movies that we can use for HIS good. God Bless.

Alex Clark More than 1 year ago

--Based on the trailer for the movie, it doesn;t sound to me like its going to skew the reason for God destroying the earth.  "Man corrupted this world, and filled it with Violence...so we must be destroyed", quote from the character being played by Anthony Hopkins, from the trailer.  One of the other trailers has his character say "if man continued in his ways, the creator would annihilate this world" and the scenes they depict are scenes of violence and murder.  Now of course, its possible the trailers could be downplaying the environmentalist aspects of the story, to get more people interested, but so far based on what I've seen of the trailers, it looks like its going to be pretty good, in my opinion.  I'm definitely planning to see it.

Bill Johnson More than 1 year ago

--Thanks for clarifying Castanheiro! I will wait and see what the pluggedin review says and review with my family whether it would be good and wise to watch.

I will say that I will be the first to say that I believe in human depravity. We are nothing without the saving grace of Christ! I would also say that God can work through non-believers as well. The movie the Passion of the Christ was beautifully done and was made by Hollywood and many non-believers. It was not completely accurate but it portrayed Christ's sacrifice in a way I before hand could not comprehend. So though this movie is not being done by Christians I believe God could still work through it.

I think I will look for some of these movie reviews you were talking about.

Thanks for the friendly exchange of views and information. God bless!

Daniel Hartman More than 1 year ago

--Hi Bill,

Sorry if I came on a little strong. I am fairly opinionated and I don't try to hide it.  My comment regarding "open-mindedness" was not directed specifically at you.  There were three mentions of being open-minded in this forum, two by others.  I have debated many people over the years and so often I hear this little caveat thrown out when people really don't know what to think and they believe that somehow this gives them a carte blanche excuse to go and see something.  No one needs to prove anything to me.  They can do what they want, see what they want, etc.  But I was just pointing out the flawed thinking behind that excuse.  Agree or disagree, it's OK with me.  But, it wasn't necessarily personal.

And no, I have not seen the movie, so no first hand knowledge, however i have read articles from people who have seen it, have been part of a focus group, analyzing it, etc..  So, I'm going off of their impressions, which we must believe to be reasonably reliabe. We do this everyday in normal life.  We believe what a research scientist says.  We believe what Mother says.  We believe the weatherman, OK, mabe not so much.  We believe the Pastor.  We go to school and believe what's in our textbooks, rightly or wrongly.  So, this is nothing new.  And since I'm rendering my opinion, it is my opinion.  You can agree or disagree but I'm not writing for a Scientific Journal or newspaper or college exam.  It is my opinion, based on what I believe to be reliable info.  I understand 'empiricism' and that whole "evidentiary arguement", so being a debater myseld, I know where you'll come at me next.  Time will tell if I'm right.  But here is where I come from on all this.  I understand "natural man".  I understand "human depravity".  I understand the "sprit" that motivates Hollywood and also what Hollywoods' ultimate agenda is.  The Bible says that this "world" is no friend to Christ or the Christian. This suggest that if Hollywood spends $125M to make a movie that somewhat resembles a Bible story, they are probably not going to be inclined to reinforce the veracity of the Bible.  They will attempt to either subtlely or overtly skew the narrative, because they have consistantly shown their predeliction to destroying the Bible's credibility, especially where it relates to supernatural events, like Noah's flood, the Red Sea crossing, etc..

But, my jab was not meant for you specifically. Just a pet peave of mine.  Didn't mean to sting you. :)

Bill Johnson More than 1 year ago

--We have a good discussion going! I do wonder though, how do you know the movie is going to skew the reason God destroyed the world? What is your source and have you watched the movie? Sorry, I  take policy and Lincoln Douglas debate for school and have been trained to check my sources. I get frustrated when we rightly get mad at Hollywood for not making Christian movies, they make them, and then we judge them before they are even out. (Maybe you have already seen it at one of those early screenings. I don't know.) That is what I mean by an open mind. (By the way I do not watch every movie just to be open minded or cool...I go to about 2 movies in the theater every year.) I think it would be wise to watch the movie before making assumptions. Who knows, I could totally be wrong and the movie could be terrible, but if it is good it has a huge potential to reach unbelievers just like with the passion of the Christ.  JHorst, I agree with you! Hopefully they don't put an over emphasis on the environment, though God does want us to take care of his creation. I guess i'm just thrilled that Hollywood actually decided to spend $125 million on a movie other than Texas chainsaw massacre 8 or etc./ENDRANT

John Horst More than 1 year ago

--The interesting thing about the Flood story is how it does not develop the character of Noah.  The other flood stories in ancient literature make the "Noah" character the hero and develop the character in dialog.  In the Bible's Flood narrative, Noah acts in response to God's command, but nowhere does Noah speak in the story.

Please note I am not saying it is only a story.  I am saying, though, that ancient history is told in stories that are crafted very differently than we are used to seeing "history" written in the modern West.  The Flood story in the Bible has many hallmarks of the same story in other ancient near east literature.  But it differs very significantly in how the character of God (in particular, His intentions) is the focus, NOT the intentions of Noah.  This is very important, because the Flood story contrasts mankind's persistent self-destructive, corrupt intentions with God's redemptive intentions.  Noah's righteousness is important to the story, but only so far as it points us to God working through Noah to accomplish His redemptive intentions.

There is one part, though, of the Bible's story that leaves us an interesting hint about Noah.  The dove is also part of the other ancient flood stories.  But in Genesis, the dove returns and Noah "...put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself." (Genesis 8:7, NASB).  There is a very personal sense of care expressed here that is absent from all of the other versions of the story.  It reflects a sense that Noah understood his role was to care for the animals that they would repopulate the earth.

I have heard that this movie will center mankind's self-destructive intentions around the environment, and maybe even have Noah as a "proto-environmentalist."  It will be interesting to see if that "environmentalism" is represented as a sense of honoring God's creation as opposed to "worshiping" the creation itself - which is how I would describe the modern environmental movement.

But at the end of the day, I don't think we as Christians should judge this film against the Bible by how it develops the character of Noah since the Bible's story does not develop the character of Noah.  I will be looking for how the movie develops God's character, for that is the thrust of the Bible's version of the story.  If we can see some contrast of mankind's sinful, self-destructive intentions (even if centered on the environment) with God's redemptive intentions - for which His judgment is essential - I think this will be a great opportunity to have the same conversation Genesis was written to bring about.  That conversation is about a Promise of redemption - a Promise we Christians believe is being fulfilled in Christ.

Daniel Hartman More than 1 year ago

--The main problem for me, as a Biblical Christian, is that the movie seeks to skew the "reason" that God destroyed the world.  This is my biggest grievance with Aronofsky.  From the Biblical text, it is absolutely clear that God destroyed the world, but saved Noah and his family, because of people's sin and wickedness that existed on the earth.  The primary message is that God hates sin and will judge sin. That is the central message of Noah.  Certainly, unbelievers don't like that message, so it is no surprise that they would want to change it, but this is exactly what honest, Bible believing, Christians will balk at.  I, personally, will not waste my time and money seeing the movie.  It's not about being open-minded either.  The truth is the truth, and if I know someone is trying to sell me a "pig-in-a-poke", I'm not interested.  It's called valuing my time and resources and not being so superficial and vacuous that I have to see every movie that's showing, just to prove to people that I'm "open-minded".  That arguement falls hopelessly short in the arena of logic.   The Bible message is that mankind is sinful and helplessly lost and on their way to hell.  God hates sin and cannot tolerate sin in His presence.  Sin must be judged, ie. story of Noah and flood.  

BUT, the Good News/Gospel is that Jesus Christ(the ark) suffered, bled, and died on the cross for the sins of mankind and has satisfied God's demands for the payment of man's sin debt.  Jesus Christ took my judgement and your judgement upon himself, on the cross, and safisfied everything that was required by our Holy God to make you and me righteous and to be able to stand in God's presence.  By believing in the completed work of Jesus Christ that He accomplished on the cross and trusting in Christ to save you from your sins, you too can be saved, forgiven, and be assured of your heavenly home with Christ for ever and ever!!  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!  

Bill Johnson More than 1 year ago

--I think people need to first understand that this is a brutally intense part of the Bible. Like the Passion of the Christ you can't take your 5 year old kid to go see it. Also movies are completely different than a historical text. This movie is not about portraying the flood or Noah exactly as they were because we simply can't. There are not enough details provided in the Bible. It is a movie and things will probably be changed to make it flow better over 2-2.5 hours. Also I personally think that as long as they don't put anything in there that is dishonorable to God or the Bible than it'll be a great movie. People expecting a PG rating should not watch this movie obviously. People seem to think that the Bible is G rated. In fact it is more like R-NC 17. The real challenge to the movie makers will be to make a movie that communicates the story without being too disturbing. I say too disturbing because I know it will be intense  and disturbing to some views because of the subject content.  I'm guessing it will be rated a strong PG-13 or light R for disturbing scenes, and it should be if it is going to show the true intensity of the situation. I will watch this movie with an open mind and hopefully others will too.(will read the pluggedin review first)

Charity Bishop More than 1 year ago

--Is it going to be any more inaccurate than The 10 Commandments? I enjoy Bible-based stories; they don't have to be 100% accurate for me to enjoy them, provided they are respectful to the meaning of the original. I'll go and see it with an open mind.

Kendra Ware More than 1 year ago

Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors so I'll probably go see it in theaters.  If people are concerned about it being too 'dark,' I'd question whether or not they'd read the story since they were children.  It's about God destroying the world and starting over; it's not a Disney fairy-tale.  The Bible is way more gritty than I think many people want it to be.

Scott Jamison More than 1 year ago

--That one poll question reads as incredibly loaded.  Like asking, "As a Faith Driven Consumer, if "Noah" director Aronofsky came into your house and told you the film was about the glories of atheism, would you want to see the movie?"

And as I have mentioned before, the actual Bible story of Noah isn't really much to work with for a full-length movie.  Especially if you want to keep it PG or PG-13 and thus avoid showing the details of the violence that has convinced God that the vast majority of humanity is not worth saving.

So I'm going to hope for something like the Ten Commandments or Ben-Hur, lots of spectacle with a religious theme, and not too preachy.

Mike Theemling More than 1 year ago

--At least domestically, I don't see Noah doing very well financially.  It will alienate Christian/Jewish viewers because of its (predicted) extreme departure from the classical Biblical interpretation while most non-Believers will not go simply because they will see it simply as a "Christian movie" and their opinions of those regardless of how well they are made are fairly low.

Internationally, it might be a different story, mainly because many are non-Believers and may not have a strong opinion on the accuracy or any negative views towards Christianity in general.

It's a bit of a shame though, since there is a lot of A-name actors in this and looks like the most serious attempt at a big budget mainstream, blatantly Christian film since The Passion of the Christ.