So there’s a new Noah film in cineplexes, directed by Darren Aron, of Sky. Sorry, ‘Darren Aronofsky’. It stars Javert Gladiator as Noah, and features Hermione Billionaire as Noah’s daughter-in-law and Sir Odin Lecter as Noah’s granddad, and DI Beowulf Sexy-Beast as Noah’s ark-enemy.
I’ve not seen it yet, as you can probably tell from the above paragraph, all of which I’ve gleaned from the trailer. All I know is that it’s taken Hollywood by, well, it seems wrong to say ‘storm’, but it’s taken millions, largely thanks to its star names and properly epic nature. The Bible TV series shown on Channel 5 over here last year promised some of this, but its biggest star-draw was that Samuel was played by the head evil Nazi from Raiders of the Last Ark. And its budget, though big, just wasn’t big enough. As ‘Noah’ has shown, if you want to top the box office, you need to throw every last penny at it, making it something you just have to see at the cinema.
‘Noah’ has upset some by taking the odd biblical liberty, but as I see it, good on it. If you took the entire Noah story from Genesis – all 97 verses of it – you’d have a film short. By even casting Russell Crowe and Ray Winstone, the producers are instantly taking a slant on the original legend, by saying that they’re going to interpret it as some kind of action thriller. I’m all for words added, subplots altered… whatever it takes to tell a compelling story. Maybe it’ll even make some people look at what’s in the original.
Certain parts of the world have had major problems with Noah even being depicted at all. We all knew that pictorial depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is a no-go for Muslims, but who knew that Noah’s face is also banned from being put out there? Plus other prophets who crop up in Islam as well as Judeo-Christianity. It means that any poster for Lloyd Webber’s ‘Joseph & His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ has all this time been problematic for Islam. Chartlon Heston as Moses falls foul of this too (as will Christian Bale in Ridley Scott’s new version out this Christmas). Michelangelo’s David breaks this rule too, as do any depictions of Adam, and of course any facial detailing of Jesus. Whether a school nativity, a stained-glass window or a Christmas card – they all fall foul of this rule. Oddly Monty Python’s Life of Brian, by deliberately not featuring Jesus in it, passes this test while King of Kings doesn’t. I’m curious to know which of those films is banned in Qatar.
I was invited on to Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme to give my tuppenceworth about how Hollywood could make an inoffensive Bible blockbuster, and you can hear it here (16mins in): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03zxmyh I think it’ll disappear by 12/04/14 though.
Darren Aron of Sky’s version of Noah is just one way you can interpret and retell that story. I’ve tried doing mine recently, which has involved an Ikea parody and one of Noah’s sons speed-dating… and you can get the rest of the story here: www.amazon.co.uk/Genesis-Bibluffers-Guide-Paul-Kerensa/dp/0232530750/