The new bible epic Noah hits theaters nationwide today amid a storm of controversy.
The $130-million film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Oscar winners Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, and Jennifer Connelly, has received a flood of criticism from Christian leaders who say the director has taken too many liberties with religious scripture.
Noah offers a unique interpretation of the timeless Biblical tale of the flood that destroyed all mankind while Noah’s ark prevailed through it all.
However, there’s nothing in the book of Genesis about Noah’s inner thoughts during this tumultuous time – which is where Hollywood steps in.
The Biblical text of Noah’s story is short. In fact, Noah doesn’t speak, nor do we hear from his wife or children.
According to Christian Broadcasting News, leaders in some Christian circles have called Noah “an environmental crusade.”
During an interview earlier this week, Crowe said that anyone judging Noah before seeing it “borders on stupidity.”
“We’ve had probably over a year now of very harsh criticism from a bunch of people who have put their name and stamp on an opinion that’s not even based on the movie or seeing the movie,” he said.
Paramount Pictures, who is distributing Noah, responded to the concerns of some Christian groups in a statement to theGrio:
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”
This is not the first time that a bible epic has received some backlash from religious groups.
Exactly a decade ago Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which brought in a staggering $370 million at the box office, was met with similar criticism. Christian leaders questioned the authenticity of Gibson’s portrayal of Jesus, while Jewish leaders felt the director portrayed Jews so negatively that the film bordered on Anti-Semitism.
Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film The Last Temptation of the Christ portrayed the human side of Jesus, as he was tempted by Satan with visions of a “normal” life with sex, marriage, and children. Christian groups worldwide condemned that film, which later earned Scorsese an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, and earned nearly $9 million in ticket sales.
Noah has not only outraged some Christian groups, but also sparked an outcry among Muslim groups, which stand against any on-screen depiction of Biblical figures.
Thus far, Indonesia, Egypt, The United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have all banned Noah from theaters.
Paramount says they expect Noah to bring in $30-33 million at the box office this weekend.
Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter for more Entertainment news at @WitherspoonC