Aronofsky doesn’t think ‘Noah’s’ Middle Eastern ban is a big deal

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Film director Darren Aronofsky doesn’t think it’s a big deal that his take on the biblical story ‘Noah’  has been censored in several Middle Eastern nations.

“I think it was sort of accepted that this type of thing was going to happen,” said Aronofsky in an interview with VOXXI at the world premiere of ‘Noah’ in Mexico City, Mexico.  “In Islam there’s a tradition where you’re not supposed to capture any people or any animals so it wasn’t that much of a big deal because we were expecting it.”

Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have placed bans on the film which tells the story of the apocalyptic flood, which aimed to mark an end to ten decades of human corruption, cleansing mankind to start anew.

Noah forbidden in the Middle East

Reports by Reuters have noted that the film produced by Paramount Pictures has been censored because it “contradicts the teachings of Islam.”

The Los Angeles Times has also reported that a Sunni Muslim organization in Egypt has issued a fatwa on the film, a legal opinion about a specific topic given by an Islamic scholar based on religious scripture.

Still, the fatwa is simply that, a religious ruling that’s not necessarily an official or legal censor.

While that is true and though Egyptian law states that religious institutions don’t have the authority to censor a film from a movie theater, the fatwa still carries enough weight to influence faithful Muslims to not watch ‘Noah’.

Even so, Aronofsky remains hopeful.

“I think people around the world will watch it anyway,” he said. “And I imagine that people in the Middle East will watch it too.”

Three religions and one Noah

Noah’s story forms part of three of the world’s major religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In the Koran, an entire chapter is dedicated to the depiction of the epic saga.

Aronofsky, who co-wrote the film with longtime friend and the film’s executive producer Ari Handel, has had a mild obsession with the story of “Noah” since his teens.  It was while writing a prize-winning school poem about “Noah” that Aronofsky first fell in love with writing.

However, in light of the controversy surrounding the film, The official website for “Noah” now displays a disclaimer announcing that “artistic license has been taken” with the story and stating that “the Biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis.”

Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe star in the film "Noah".

Paramount Pictures film “Noah” directed by Darren Aronofsky stars some of Hollywood’s biggest names like Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. (Paramount Pictures)

Aronofsky who has made it a point to repeatedly comment that “Noah” is a film for believers and non-believers alike explained that the film was developed by studying the actual text of Genesis and using it as a starting point to later expand it into a family drama.

“They want this movie to be a wide, mainstream hit that will appeal to global audiences regardless of faith, but they want to do that while at the same time not alienating people who see the Noah story as gospel,” said The Hollywood Reporter’s Matthew Belloni in an interview with NBC.

The film stars some of Hollywood’s biggest names, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Sir Anthony Hopkins and counts with a larger than life $120 million budget to match.

Hunger for faith-based movies in the U.S.

TODAY’S Al Roker has been quoted as saying he believes that in the U.S. faith-based movies are in high demand right now and the film “Son of God” distributed by 20th Century Fox two weeks ago may be a prime example that he’s right.

The film was primarily marketed to extremely religious moviegoers, the kind that would probably not head to the movies on the opening weekend of other major releases. “Son of God” grossed $26.5 million in its first weekend.

An article on Forbes attributes this to one basic lesson: “There is real money to be made targeting audiences who aren’t used to being targeted”

“Noah” opens on March 28.

Paramount pictures spent about $120 million dollars.

Noah premieres in theaters on March 28 and stars Russell Crowe as “Noah” and Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife “Nameh”. (Paramount Pictures)

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