While attending the Christian-themed Echo Conference in Dallas, Texas last week, Director Darren Aronofsky previewed a sneak-peak video of his new biblical epic, "Noah," starring Russell Crowe and Emma Watson, which is set to be released in theaters in March 2014.
Before previewing the film, Aronofsky told the audience of Christian filmmakers and artists that he was first inspired to make a film about the biblical character of Noah in seventh grade, when he won an award for writing a poem about the scriptural hero, which he ultimately read in front of the United Nations.
Aronofsky said his experience with that poem "gave me the courage and spirit to be a writer. So Noah's very much been a patron saint in my life leading me toward my creative endeavors."
"I'm also excited that Hollywood has finally agreed to make the first biblical epic in almost 50 years," the director continued, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"It's been a long time since Bible movies were on the screen, and there's been a lot of advancements in technology and special effects, and maybe that's the reason why Noah's never been attempted on the big screen before, because of the size and scale of the deluge and all the different animals […] But now, finally, with Hollywood's help, we can actually do this and bring it to life," Aronofsky added.
The highly-anticipated film will include Australian actor Russell Crowe playing the role of Noah, who in the bible's Old Testament obeys God's command to construct an ark, and ultimately to save the remnants of life on earth.
Additionally, Emma Watson will star in the film as Ila, actor Logan Lerman will star as Ham, Jennifer Conelly will star as Naameh, and Anthony Hopkins will star as Methuselah.
Some critics are drawing a comparison between Aronofsky's "Noah," produced by Paramount Pictures, with the 2004 "The Passion of the Christ," a film directed by Mel Gibson that covers the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life, including his brutal crucifixion. The film received several accolades and grossed $600 million during its theatrical release, according to Box Office Mojo.
The success of a well-made biblical epic cannot be understated; Mark Burnett's "The Bible" miniseries broke cable television records when it premiered on The History Channel earlier this year, with its premiere episode drawing in 13.1 million viewers.
However, some, including film critic Brian Godawa, have remained skeptical of the upcoming "Noah" film, arguing that it seeks to serve more as an "enviro-disaster" film rather than an accurate retelling of biblical events. Godawa writes in a recent review that the film seeks to communicate an environmentalistic agenda that God is upset with man for his mistreatment of the earth.
Godawa argues that the film gives viewers "an anachronistic doomsday scenario of ancient global warming. How Neolithic man was able to cause such anthropogenic catastrophic climate change without the 'evil' carbon emissions of modern industrial revolution is not explained."
Aronofsky has previously directed such box office hits as "The Wrestler," "The Fighter," and "Black Swan." His most recent work "Noah" is currently being filmed in Iceland and is scheduled for release in theaters on March 28, 2014.
The Echo conference, which took place last week in Dallas, is described as a "church conference for artists, geeks, and storytellers" seeking to explore creativity within the church, according to the conference's website.