It’s over a month away from the premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, but the film continues to make headlines and most of them not good. People are complaining about everything from an environmental theme of the movie to the fact that Noah is being portrayed by Russell Crowe.
The problem is, most of these armchair critics have only seen the trailer for the film (which I might add, looks suspicious) but not the whole movie. It’s a classic case of judging a book by its coverflap.
Some critics have been invited to pre-screenings of the film including Joseph Cirilo who says: “This is most likely one of those times where the film is only loosely based on the actual text. Although the filmmakers behind the project would like us to believe it is the telling of ‘the untold story’ to witness in 3D and Imax, likely what we’ll see is the telling of the filmmakers own version of 2012 meets the bible.”
But Ted Baehr from MovieGuide, a Christian movie review ministry, had a different take on the movie: “Noah doesn’t significantly stray from the biblical source material and instead remains quite faithful. In fact, by the time the film comes out, the whole issue may be moot. All of the hyper-environmentalism that’s being reported, it’s not in the final movie. The environmental points are there, but they are dropped pretty quickly, and it’s more oriented toward salvation, and loving God, and being fruitful.”
We’ll have to wait and see when the film arrives in theaters at the end of March. In the meantime, remember that this isn’t Hollywood’s first foray into the 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Here are some of the more memorable ones with their own share of controversies:
Noah’s Ark (1928)
This melodramatic romance/disaster film was originally intended to be a silent film to be released in 1926 but with the new technology of the time, new scenes with dialogue were added making the film “half silent/half talkie.” The movie told two stories – one about a biblical Noah and a “modern” story about World War I. Both stories featured the same actors including Dolores Costello and George o’Brien. It cost about one million to make, three actors drowned, Costello caught pneumonia and John Wayne served as one of the films extras.
Father Noah’s Ark (1933)
This Disney “Silly Symphonies” short presents a fairly straight forward tale of the ark with some novel humor. Noah and his sons build the ark with some help from some of the animals. Two by two, the animals arrive on board except for the skunks. Noah gets chased by a lightning bolt and when the waters recede, the ark was stuck in a tree. As with other Silly Symphonies, it features little if any dialogue.
Noah’s Ark (1959)
This fairly unknown short produced by Walt Disney featured stop motion animation similar to the Rankin Bass Christmas specials. Everyday items brought the characters to life. In this version, Noah and his sons were given just one week to complete the ark. While on board, the animals began to get restless, so Noah’s wife suggests that they play some music to calm the savage beasts. Everyone danced with their partner except for Mr.Hippo, who was a bit of a playboy. A rather large segment of the film is dedicated to Mrs. Hippo singing about her woes being married to the brute. It wasn’t Disney’s finest work.
The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark (1980)
To call this a Noah’s Ark movie is quite a stretch, but it is included in the title. Eliott Gould plays a pilot whose job is the fly a cargo of animals in a beat up B-29 bomber for a missionary (Geneviève Bujold) and two orphans (Ricky Schroder and Tammy Lauren). The plane crashes on a remote island, the crew turn the plane into a boat and call it Noah’s Ark, the pilot falls in love with the missionary, the two get married and adopt the orphans. Did I mention that it was a Disney flick?
Superbook (1981, 2013)
“Superbook” was originally a Japanese anime television series about Christopher Peeper and his friend Joy who travel through time with a robot named Gizmo and a magical “Superbook.” It became pretty popular and the series was brought to the U.S. in the early 1980’s. The series was recently updated with CGI effects and whole different look. In 1981’s “The Flood,” and the updated 2013, “Noah,” the trio get to help build the ark, take care of the animals and run away from bad guys all leading up to the rainbow promise at the end.
The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible (1985)
Produced by Hanna-Barbera, this animated series was aimed at the home video market. Each episode featured three young travelers who travel back in time to experience Bible stories firsthand and featured special guest star voices. In the Noah story, the three help Noah (Lorne Greene) and his family build the ark and take care of the animals. As the rains some, they jump on board just as an army comes to burn down the boat.
Noah’s Ark TV Miniseries (1999)
A rather bizarre version of Noah was created for NBC that meshed two of the Bible’s stories into one. Jon Voight starred as Noah with Mary Steenburgen as his wife who were neighbors in Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot played by F. Murray Abraham. Biblical accuracy wasn’t a factor during the three night affair. The climax features Lot leading a band of pirates to take down the ark. In the end, God not only destroyed the city for its evilness, but also the world with a flood while He was at it. Not surprisingly, Noah’s Ark was critically beat for its creative liberties, and odd depiction of Biblical characters.
Part of Disney’s Fantasia 2000, Donald Duck serves as Noah’s assistant who is in charge of directing traffic of the animals to get on board of the ark. He must get two of every creature including him and Daisy. It is said that all of the animals are a representation of the animals featured in earlier Disney films. Everything goes to plan until Donald and Daisy can’t find each other. As with the tradition of the other segments of the full film, the short features no dialogue.
Evan Almighty (2007)
Although “technically” a sequel to the 2003 Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty is a standalone comedy about a former TV news anchorman, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), now running for office. He, like Noah, is told by God, (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark due to a coming flood. For some reason, God insists that Evan needs to look like the biblical version of Noah, complete with long flowing beard and robe, in order to play the part. By the time it premiered, it had become the most expensive film comedy ever which grossed less than its budget of $174 million.