Noah: Analyzing audience and Aronofsky
On March 28, the much-anticipated film “Noah” was released. Since then, there have been mixed reviews and criticism from both religious groups and Darren Aronofsky fans. Despite such criticism, the film brought in almost $44 million according to the Internet Movie Database.
Positive reviews have come from major print publications such as “The New Yorker” and “Washington Post.” Negative reviews have come from many Islamic countries, several of which refused to show the film. “The Guardian”; the official Vatican newspaper, “Avvenire”; and several articles on Slate.com criticised the film.
“Avvenire” said that the film was a “missed opportunity.”
The biggest complaint from most Christians is that
the movie deviates from the Bible too much, whereas the biggest complaint from Aronofsky fans is that the film does not compare to his previous work.
The most obvious counterargument to the complaints from the religious viewers is that the biblical story of Noah is only four chapters long and is a very linear, simplistic story. Four short chapters do not contain enough material to make an epic, two-plus hour movie.
Therefore, creative license is a natural consequence of a lack of material.
However, it appears that many religious viewers had their own version of the story in mind with enough content to fill two hours.
Moreover, Aronofsky said he was creating the story
he had envisioned as child when reading the story of Noah. According to an interview with Robbie Collin that appeared in the “Telegraph,” Aronofsky said, “I recognised I was not such a good kid, and felt guilty about it, so how could I get on the boat?” he says. “I found the story scary because I sympathised with everyone who drowned.”
Aronofsky created the story as he saw it in his imagination, which, I’m assuming, is the problem some religious viewers are having with the story: that it does not match the story as they imagined it.
The trick is that despite the words being the same on the page in the Bible, not every person will see the same images as everyone else in his or her mind. That is to say, if we
all made a movie version of the story of Noah, each story would be slightly from our neighbors because we each have a unique imagination.
As an English major, I’ve learned that the term for this is pluralist readings.
Based on my personal belief that every person has an individual right to his or her own interpretation of any story, I defend Aronfsky’s choices in the making of the film. The story itself is a fictional version of Noah, one only based off the biblical story.
Aronofsky’s adaptation is akin to when a filmmaker adapts a novel or true events into a film. The medium of film has limitations, just as any other medium.
As a reader and fan of literature, I am frequently disappointed by adaptations of novels into movies. However, I have long ago accepted that film adaptations will always be inferior to the original novel, comic book or graphic novel.
In order to deal with this dissonance, I have adopted the idea that the original work and the film are of two different worlds.
Instead of becoming irate about the things that are “wrong” with a movie because it is different from a novel or comic book, I judge the film as a film. They are separate media, so I treat them as such.
Now I realize that biblical stories are much more personal to many people than any other type of story, but I am still defending Aronofsky as an artist and the film as a separate medium from the Bible.
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