Inspired, not literal, Noah filmmakers say
The movie's maker Paramount Pictures and international Christian communicators group National Religious Broadcasters jointly announced the new promotional message Thursday (Feb. 27). They indicated the message would appear on future Noah marketing materials for the film's March 28 release. It would appear on the soon-to-be released online trailer, on print and radio Noah promotion, and on a percentage of the film's online and broadcast material.
NRB President Jerry Johnson, past president of Criswell College in Dallas, Texas, had lobbied Paramount Pictures to inform moviegoers that the film is not a line-by-line retelling of the true biblical account.
"My intent in reaching out to Paramount with this request was to make sure everyone who sees this impactful film knows this is an imaginative interpretation of Scripture, and not literal," Johnson, a former Baptist pastor and administrator and faculty member at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in the press release. "Because of the quality of the production and acting, viewers will enjoy watching main themes from the Noah story depicted in a powerful way on the big screen."
The official message states, "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."
After test screenings late last year, the film drew criticism from many Christians who expressed concern that it strays from the biblical text. Faith Driven Consumers, the group which supported Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson in the IStandWithPhil.com campaign, said Paramount's newly released message shows a respect for the film's core audience.
"While many Faith Driven Consumers will likely find valid reason to pause on some elements of the film, we are becoming more hopeful that many other areas will resonate and be compatible with the Bible's core message," Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone said in a Feb. 28 press release. "We are looking forward to reviewing and further evaluating the film and sharing that information with our community using our Faith-friendly Film Review rating system."
Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore, a professing Christian, expressed in the press release appreciation for Johnson's initiative.
"We are deeply appreciative of Dr. Johnson's efforts to bring this idea to us," Moore said. "Our goal has been to take every measure we can to ensure moviegoers have the information they need before deciding to buy a ticket to see the film. We are very proud of Darren Aronofsky's Noah. We think audiences all over the world will enjoy this epic film." Aronofsky directed and co-wrote the film.
Johnson's initiative followed the NRB 2014 International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, where Johnson led a panel discussion on the movie, joined by John Snowden, a biblical consultant for Noah, and Phil Cooke, a filmmaker and media consultant who is a member of the NRB Board of Directors.
Johnson said in the press release he hopes the disclaimer will hopefully make it clear to Christians that Noah was not intended to be a literal presentation of Scripture.
"We are grateful that Paramount is striving ... to strike a proper balance between artistic creativity, character development, and honoring the sacred Scripture," Johnson said. "It is a significant and welcome development when a leading Hollywood studio like Paramount makes a major film about a story from the Bible."
"Many people will go to this film and enjoy it," Johnson said. "Christians should be ready to engage with them about the main biblical themes that are portrayed in the film, namely sin, judgment, and salvation."
Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press' general assignment writer/ editor. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).