Darren Aronofsky's upcoming film "Noah" has reportedly been banned by censorship boards in Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates due to its personification of biblical characters, which reportedly violates Islamic law.
Insiders with Paramount Pictures, the company producing "Noah," told The Hollywood Reporter that censorship boards in the Middle Eastern countries said they will not release the film. Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan are reportedly expected to follow suit.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount had expected "Noah" would face criticism in Islamic countries. Islamic law states it is blasphemous to characterize prophets of Muhammad, and the film is inspired by the biblical story of Noah, one of God's prophets who builds an ark to escape a catastrophic flood.
The censorship boards' announcement comes shortly after a top Islamic institute in Egypt denounced the film, saying that it would prohibit its screening because it "contradicts the stature of prophets and messengers … and antagonizes the faithful."
"Al-Azhar renews its rejection to the screening of any production that characterizes Allah's prophets and messengers and the companions of the Prophet [Muhammad]," Al-Azhar, a main Sunni Muslim institute in the country, said in a statement. "Therefore, al-Azhar announces the prohibition of the upcoming film about Allah's messenger Noah – peace be upon him." Ultimately, the institute doesn't have the final say in regard to national censorship, but it is still considered an influential voice in the Islamic world.
This is the most recent flood of adversity "Noah" has received in the past few weeks. The film was recently criticized by some evangelical Christians who argue the movie takes too many artistic liberties, straying from the original biblical story of Noah and the flood. In response to the criticism, Paramount Pictures released disclaimers stating that although the film does take "artistic license," it still remains true in "essence, values and integrity" to the original biblical story.
Aronofsky, the film's director who has previously been behind such famous films as "The Wrestler" and "Black Swan," told Variety in an interview this week that he is less concerned about the alleged controversy surrounding his film and more concerned about the movie reaching nonbelievers.
"The controversy is all about the unknown and about the fear of people trying to exploit a Bible story," Aronofsky said Thursday. "It will all disappear as soon as people start seeing the film."
The film is set to premiere in the U.S. on March 28 and in Egypt, if all goes according to plan, on March 26.