Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ Attracts Controversy During Test Screenings

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noah darren aronofsky controversy Darren Aronofskys Noah Attracts Controversy During Test Screenings

When you adapt a Bible story for the big screen, you’re just asking for trouble, and Darren Aronofsky has already courted his fair share with his graphic novel-turned movie project, Noah. The Black Swan director’s vision of the Noah’s Ark story features Russell Crowe as the eponymous prophet, who believes that his visions of an impending apocalyptic flood are a message from God – and thus, begins to construct an enormous ship, in order to protect his family and as many living creatures as possible.

Paramount has started test screening Noah, by showing different cuts of the film to audiences so as to determine which one is best received (read: most commercially viable). The religious tentpole is reported to have climbed past its original $125 million budget, so Aronofsky is having to deal with more studio feedback than he’s accustomed to, seeing how his previous features have all been pretty low on the professional film budget scale (with the exception of The Fountain, which still cost “just” $35 million to make).

The current problems facing Noah are described by THR as follows:

In recent weeks, the studio has held test screenings for key groups that might take a strong interest in the subject matter: in New York (for a largely Jewish audience), in Arizona (Christians) and in Orange County, Calif. (general public). All are said to have generated troubling reactions. But sources say Aronofsky has been resistant to Paramount’s suggested changes. “Darren is not made for studio films,” says a talent rep with ties to the project. “He’s very dismissive. He doesn’t care about [Paramount's] opinion.”

Aronofsky is definitely aiming to put his own creative stamp on the material, having described Noah as “the first environmentalist” (as in, the first person to recognize the importance of caring for the world created for humanity by God) and planned a vision of the story that includes beings like giant six-armed angels and fantastical animals unlike any in existence today. The setting of Aronofsky and Ari Handel’s Noah graphic novel (the basis for the film) can be described as savage and Mad Max-ish, with years of human barbarism and warfare having ravaged the landscape, even before the the time of a terrible drought.

darren aronofsky noah Darren Aronofskys Noah Attracts Controversy During Test Screenings

Artwork from the ‘Noah’ graphic novel

The artistic challenges that come with realizing such a world have already been documented, most recently in an interview where Aronofsky revealed that the CGI animals designed for Noah are the most complex digital shots rendered by ILM to date. However, as passionate as the filmmaker’s vision for the project appears to be, that doesn’t guarantee that others will be so taken with his re-interpretation of the Noah’s Ark story, as THR notes in its write-up:

Beyond the visuals, a major challenge has been coming up with an exciting third act that doesn’t alienate the potentially huge Christian audience (in the Bible, Noah and the ark’s inhabitants survive the flood that destroys the Earth). Some in the faith community already have expressed skepticism about the result, especially after writer Brian Godawa in October 2012 obtained a version of the Noah script and posted his summary online under the heading, “Darren Aronofsky’s Noah: Environmentalist Wacko.”…

Admittedly, there’s something deliciously meta about all this, with Aronofsky’s plans having been heavily scrutinized by the doubtful religious community looking onwards as the project develops. It parallels how Noah, in the movie, faces much in the way of skepticism from his peers (including, Ray Winstone’s character), who question whether the protagonist’s visions and behavior are those of a faithful servant of God… or a disillusioned madman, who’s been given too much leeway.

russell crowe noah1 Darren Aronofskys Noah Attracts Controversy During Test Screenings

Russell Crowe as Noah

There’s certainly an audience that will be interested to see how Aronofsky breathes new life into the Noah’s Ark story, more so because it’s clear that he is strongly committed to making the film a success; as a result, ensuring that the Biblical epic should feel like the handiwork of an auteur, not a soulless Hollywood effects-heavy tentpole. Whether or not it’s respectful of the Bible source material, is a discussion better saved for later (i.e. when the film is no longer a work-in-progress and ready for critiquing).

On the other hand, you can see where Paramount is coming from, since the studio has already invested heavily in letting Aronofsky maintain his artistic integrity with Noah, despite the chance that it could push away the sizable Christian audience (see: the box office returns for The Passion of the Christ and huge ratings success of The History Channel’s The Bible mini-series-turned upcoming theatrical release Son of God, for the proof of that).

Still, at this stage, Paramount attempting to make the film easier-to-swallow for moviegoers might be too little, too late, lest the studio end up sacrificing the cohesiveness of Aronofsky’s vision and turning the film into a Frankenstein job like the recent expensive summer blockbusters World War Z and The Lone Ranger. Indeed, the vast difference in those films’ box office returns just goes to show: you can never be too sure about how things will work out in the end.

Let us know whether or not you’re interested in seeing Noah in the comments section below (and remember, keep it civil, folks).


Noah is slated to open in theaters on March 28th, 2014.

Source: THR

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    • This echoes my experience perfectly. It was just a bad movie.

  1. God says the Bible (His living Word) is the Word of truth. I say we should read and study the Biblical story of Noah. The truth is there and cannot be contested. Lets pray that every man, woman and child who watches this movie will have the scales fall from their eyes and will be confronted in a loving embrace by God so they may see the truth for themselves. And for those who love God, be at peace that we have truth and an Advocate in Jesus Christ.

  2. Have not seen the movie. Checking out the content and opinions online. Does it really imply Eve had sexual relations with the serpent, (Satan as ventriloquist)? If so…I can find no where in scripture to back that up. Satan the Devil is perverted though, that is why he and other angels had relations with women (obviously, humans are lower forms of life than angels) …they then produced Neph’ilim, “mighty ones of fame.” The name Nephilim possibly means “Fellers”, those who cause others to fall down. They were wicked and violent. They were unauthorized hybrids, therefore, they could not reproduce. One thing we can be very happy about: after the flood in Noah’s day, Jehovah God no longer allowed those wicked angels (former sons of his) to materialize in such a way. Be grateful all women!! So because they can no longer do this, they get their jollies out of trying to get humans to do all kinds of perverted things. Hence…they world as we see it today.

  3. I saw the movie yesterday in may own lenguage (slovak); For first look I was surprised the the way it was made; But finally result is that everybody should be think over himself because each of us has dark soul …

    • You completely missed the point….

  4. This this the most inaccurate telling of the account of Noah. It is evident that the writer and director did not read the story of Noah told in ANY Bible. The costume director seemed the be on some type of hallucinogenic drug. Anyone with any knowledge of history would know that during the time of Noah, they wore animal skins as clothing. They surely did not have the tools to make thread and sew sleeves in arm holes. They certainly wore no pants and leather boots with soles; nor did they have jackets with buttons on them. This sham of a movie looked like a merge between the Killing Games and Transformers – Giant rock angels-really?!
    You had a cast of great actors but their talent was wasted on this absurd pathetic depiction. Go back to school and learn ancient and pre-historic history.

    • Excuse me, DJ. This movie supposedly to portray a Biblical character, had no Biblical background, and yet your main concern is the CLOTHING THEY WORE. Really? Get a life!

  5. I loved it, I’m a born again Christian, Holy Roller you might say, It had some strange things on it that I didn’t agree with, but all in all, it was quite a good movie.

    • Critics don’t know Crap about predeluvian cultures but I doooo! The director of this film captured the climate and motivations of predeluvian times by using actual accounts and research from extra Biblical sources that Noah and his family would know about and need to be aware of … These same hellish doctrines and behaviors are active and alive today , even if Christians are ignorant of them , the director has been more faithful in his research than any other film on this topic . He created an alagorical story rich in repeated Biblical themes from other stories From the Bible . The fact that this is not the Noah of history is an ignorant complaint , because the Film is not about Noah … It is about us… The Father role , and salvation of the Family in this age of selfishness and sin is clearly explained , yet I have not heard any discussion of that …. God , Who is the creator by the way , in the Bible , has worked with the Fathers of many families in a steady fashion in the line of Seth to set the foundation to send The Son of God … Who by the way is the main topic of other Movies … In this one , we are Noah , we must learn how Our Creator God will communicate to us personally , we as Noah most make hard decisions that might not be right But The Creator will correct us . Over and over this film asks the father figure if he would be willing to sacrifice his Isaac on the alter , give up everything to be faithful … He was … Even at the cost of his own family …an agel was not sent to stop This Noah from putting an end to all future generations , God was content to let this Noah make the final decision and take full responsibility for mankind… This Noah even against the laws of God, decides to say Yes to a new beginning , as God knew he would .
      As with Abraham and Isaac. Gen 22.. 9
      When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

      “Here I am,” he replied.

      12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
      When you have nothing good to say…. Just say …. Jesus…….

  6. My wife and I saw Noah tonight and I think the creator of this film must have read a different version of the Bible then I have. There was maybe 10 percent accuracy and the rest was purely supposition. Hollywood sure has some twisted views of things. If I had to rate this movie on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) I give it maybe a 2 for graphics. It is one of the closest times my wife and I ever got up and walked out of movie in years. I wish we would have. Here again Hollywood has to pervert the truth to make money.

  7. Just made the mistake of seeing Noah. Worst piece of violent, nasty looking, garbage I
    have ever seen. There was absolutely no relation of the movie to the story in the Bible
    AT ALL except of the scene where the dove flies back to the ark with an olive leaf in
    it’s mouth. The idiot’s who made this garbage could not even show an ark that even
    vaguely looked like the ark as described in the Bible. As a Christian I implore you not
    to waste your time and money.

    • I agree with you 100% Frank I told my husband that the dove was the only factual thing in the movie.

  8. I am a born again Christian – I thought that I would not like the movie but I actually found it to be good and it kept the main biblical message of the story of Noah which was that God destroyed the world that then was because of sin and saved Noah and his family. Even though it did not keep every little detail of the bible account , it stayed true to the main message. I have a problem with fellow christians who like to make themselves feel more righteous by straining at gnats and swallowing camels. Go learn what this means if you do not already know and humble yourselves !!!!!

    • Sorry, Marleonetti, but I fail to see how your brand of Christianity (I’m personally what you would probably call “Main Line Christian”) has to do with whether the movie was good or bad. You could never legitimately say to someone who is Biblically illiterate that “This movie is what Genesis says.” The movie was a travesty of Genesis 5:28-9:29. All one has to do is read the passage to see how extremely far the movie wanders from the Biblical text.

  9. I really enjoyed it, well acted, visuals…I went to be entertained and Ï sure was.

  10. After reading numerous reviews defending this garbage by citing “artistic license” I believe Mr. Aronofsky’s license should be revoked. Punishment should be he has to watch this movie into eternity.

    Reminded me of the movie Waterworld, except that it was so ridiculous, it was actually funny.

  11. I’m a regular guy in my thirties. I’m a Christian and go to church from time to time. Here’s my take on the movie Noah. First the positives and then its issues.

    There were a few messages in the film I viewed as positive. It doesn’t question the idea of a Creator but rather simply assumes there is a God. The movie also conveyed certain positive values such as the benefit of listening to God, the portrayal of God’s nature as loving and forgiving, and family loyalty. It also does not shy away from the fact that mankind has fallen and needs saving.

    Unfortunately, there are many issues with this film that do not portray the “essence, values, and integrity” of the Biblical account. Many parts were either completely made-up or flat out opposite to what the Bible says. Here are a few examples:

    1) The movie references fallen angels who turned into rock people. Aronofsky may have gotten inspiration from the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4, but the idea that there were angels who tried to help Adam and Eve in the garden who then fell to the earth and turned into rock people is blatantly made-up and not in the Bible at all.

    2) In the Bible, Noah’s three sons all had wives, and they all brought their wives with them on the boat. The scene where Noah lets the girl get trampled while grabbing his son is incorrect – as they all had their wives with them (Genesis 7:13).

    3) The Bible gives no account of the birth of twins from one of the girls on the boat, and Noah certainly did not try to kill anyone. This film portrays Noah as homicidal, while the Bible says he was a just man and walked with God (Genesis 6:9).

    4) The bad guy sneaking on the ship – not in Bible.

    5) The evolution scene is not Biblical. Species do adapt to their environment, but God spoke all living things into being. Nothing evolved from one thing into another (Genesis 1).

    6) Overall – the big error. Noah’s was not charged by God to decide whether the human race would continue or not. It was not Noah’s choice, as the movie depicts, to make that decision. God’s reasoning behind the flood was not to eradicate humankind. He was grieved in His heart because of man’s continual evil. Noah was charged by God to save his family and the animals and re-populate the planet with humans. Noah accomplished this directive. God desires relationship with us and ultimately sent Jesus as a way to reconcile us to Himself.

    While Aronofsky and Paramount have the right to make and release what they want, there is a huge difference between taking artistic license and completely misrepresenting the facts. Calling this movie Noah is a disservice to the general public. Many people who watch this film will leave the theater thinking the Bible says something it doesn’t at all.

    By the way, one last area which is an issue to me is on the topic of faith. Noah was a man of faith. God gave him a vision, and he acted on it, trusting what God told him even though he didn’t understand the why or how. Noah persevered. So, in addition to the above, the movie also misses the role and importance of faith in being led by God. Hebrews 11:7

    • To call anything that comes from the bible fact is about as artistic and ridiculous as this movie. If anyone from this day and age ever closed his doors to the dying, children even, he would be viewed as evil and a criminal. He would be imprisoned, institutionalized, or possibly even put to death if he lived in the right state. All because he heard a voice tell him to? If these are the kind of “facts” your referring to I think he got close enough, Christians like you just don’t like how horrible Bible stories are once you can see them visually and all the murder and the absolutely black or white morals they teach, especially when you see how inhuman those teachings seem when applied to the real world and relationships. Even I you take out all the extra the basic story still shows an impatient and angry god who solves problems with violence and doesn’t value human life. That and a man that’s willing to exterminate all of humanity for the favor of a dis attached voice claiming to be god. Wide spread killing for the sake of purity. Sounds oddly like a halocaust to me but your factual bible has lots of stories like that in it. Stop nit picking at details that don’t matter, it’s all fictitious. Either Noah was delusional, you are, or you both are/were.

  12. Just finished seeing Noah with my partner. We had a fight in the theater as he wanted to leave after 20 minutes and I said we should atone for our sins and watch it till the end.

    Its a German Sausage Film. One of the wurst. Bizarre, dumb , stoooopid story. I know a lot of creativity and talent went into the film from production to acting but the story and its portrayal were a punishment from God. I know I felt the heavenly lashes as I viewed this piece of absurdity, or was that my partner slapping me on the cheek to keep me awake?

  13. Why would anyone need to base a movie on a graphic novel when the story is as well known as that of Noah is beyond comprehension. I went to see an interesting interpretation of a well-known bible story, and went without any prejudgement. The movie was pretentious, wooden, stilted, and worst of all BORING with empty emotions. I yawned through the entire thing.

    If Aronofsky wanted to do something novel with the Noah tale, he should’ve read Morgan Black’s Prophecies of the Celts which describes the story of one of Noah’s daughters who was not allowed on the ark because she had “sinned” and given herself to her lover. Noah’s daughter built her own ark, took some maidens (also deemed sinful by Noah) and settled in Ireland. Now there’s a story.

  14. This is surely one of the worst films ever made, and if it weren’t for my wife I would have walked out. It is very simple Hollywood must learn that whenever they make a biblical film they should keep it true to the scriptures. As a bible scholar and one time film boffin I’ve studied the scripture of Noah’s flood over many years, and the films depiction was incorrect and false, and because of this I believe it killed the film. Special effects are great, but its inaccuracies tells the audience something other than the truth, furthermore it wasn’t because of mans wicked alone the universal flood was ordained, but a more sinister deception which made God decide to destroy the world, this Hollywood does not know. And why on earth couldn’t they use the word ‘God, for centuries Hollywood have used God’s name in rather blasphemous ways, so couldn’t they have honoured the creator by using his name and use it in the right context. So a simple lesson to Hollywood directors or any want-to-be ambitious film maker who intend on exploiting the bible to make lots of money, please keep it real!

  15. I love Noah, it make me think and last days.

  16. The worse movie I ever watch, the directors license should be revoke. Waste of time and money,for a moment I thought I was in the wrong movie for transformers, is ok to create new ideas according to present times but always within God’s word since that’s what the story is all about, but not to the poi t of absurdity. If the director is not a believer he should not be trying to make money off God’s word which cannot be altered.

  17. The film foreshadows the unceasing battle of mankind with the fallen angels. It rages more on the inside of man, in his mental realm. Only Christians are aware of it. Unbelievers are blinded to it. These fallen angels are not friendly to man at any circumstances as the film erroneously suggests. In Genesis 6 there is the enigmatic information that man´s antediluvian longevity was dramatically shortened after the fallen angels crossbred with women. The thwarted human race was no more acceptable to God. Only under the authority of the New Covenant of God, man has a chance to resist the constant onslaught of the wicked spiritual forces. Jesus gave man the possibility since He healed psychiatric illnesses in massive way which is remote even to modern psychiatry. About the battle see Ephesians 6: 10-18 and you tube. The biblical part of the story which is not mentioned in the film is that the judgment by water during the flood will be followed through judgment by fire. But before that Jesus will come back to get hold of His redeemed people.

  18. This movie is awesome to behold Movie and a grand look.

  19. Aronofsky’s “Noah” is trash and extremely disrespectful of the subject matter. I saw the movie last weekend and have done everything I can (via social media) to prevent anyone else from supporting it. I regret that I spent $8 to see it. I wasted two hours of my life that I can never get back.

  20. Terrible movie. absolute tripe. this was the worst movie i have ever seen. impossible for anyone to save it was just awful

  21. I liked it a lot and so did my wife. The fantastical elements made sense in context of the story, the performances were great as were the digital effects. The audience I saw it with HATED it. Understandable as it’s an art piece disguised as a blockbuster. It had some beautiful photography.

  22. Went to see it yesterday. Best movie ever, looking forward to the directors cut.
    I see the similar messages to Fight Club, the essence of it. Whoever thinks this movie was about the Bible or violence, simply does not get it. If I had the chance, I’d give a big hug to Mr. Aronofsky and thank him for making it. I got a deeply emotional impression from this movie, I can imagine the vast existential meditation has gone through. Noah is not simply a movie, it’s a guided meditation.
    Great storytelling, cinematography, music. If only there weren’t the big studio interferences. But if one looks over those, it’s Aronofsky at his best.

  23. Come on guys, it is just a movie. The Bible is just a book. Just enjoy them for what they are. It’s not real life.

  24. This wasn’t the true story from the bible, but why does it have to be? It doesn’t state that it is the true story at all. It’s a very positive story and I think every young person should experience movies like this. Inspirational movie.

    Will definitely watch again sometime!


  25. In reading these reviews, only a few people seem to have been “on board” with this movie. The rest are “outside the ark”. It really did bring the story to life.

    • Right on Jerome. And if it actually made people pick up a Bible to read the story, then it has done its job.