Noah Movie Test Screenings Reveal Christian Audiences Upset With 'Darkness' of Russell Crowe's Character
Initial screenings of Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" has revealed that Christians were not entirely on board with the "Black Swan" director's depiction of the famous Genesis character.
After "Noah" superseded its initial $125 million budget and became the costliest movie that Aronofsky had ever made, Paramount Pictures forced the director - against his will - to show several different versions of the unfinished movie to test audiences last year.
"I was upset – of course," Aronofsky told The Hollywood Reporter. "No one's ever done that to me."
According to THR, some of "Noah's" Christians viewers "questioned the film's adherence to the Bible story and reacted negatively to the intensity and darkness of the lead character" after he got drunk and considered "taking drastic measures to eradicate mankind from the planet."
The director, who grew up Jewish, developed the story with fellow Jew, Ari Handel. The team lent their own imagination to the film, dreaming "up a world that included fallen angels with multiple arms and inventive, computer-rendered versions of animals."
Despite the initial screening reactions, Paramount Vice Chair Rob Moore, who is a "devout Christian," said that the studio anticipates "that the vast majority of the Christian community will embrace [Noah]."
"[The movie contains the] key themes of the Noah story in Genesis - of faith and hope and God's promise to mankind," said Moore.
Part of where Aronofsky's own interpretation came in, Moore says, is because the Genesis account has few details about who Noah was.
"From a storytelling perspective, the main points are that Noah is a man of faith who is picked by God, told to build an ark, builds the ark and survives," said Moore.
Moore defended the director's complex depiction of Noah.
"Most people do not remember or were never taught the fact that after Noah's off the ark, there is a moment in the story where he is drunk," he added.
The Hollywood executive also pointed out that viewers should be aware that Aronofsky's artistic style makes "Noah" a different film than a series, such as the one created by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey in "The Bible."
"They've been very effective in terms of communicating to and being embraced by a Christian audience," Moore told THR. "This movie has a lot more creativity to it. And therefore, if you want to put it on the spectrum, it probably is more accurate to say this movie is inspired by the story of Noah."
Aronofsky said that he has sought to balance the film's divergent audiences.
"[I wanted to create] this fantastical world a la Middle-earth that they wouldn't expect from their grandmother's Bible school," said Aronofsky, who is also known for such films as "The Wrestler," "Requiem for a Dream" and "The Fountain."
But Aronofsky said it was also important that he make a film for an audience "who take this very, very seriously as gospel."
Despite his religious upbringing, a 2006 interview suggests that Aronofsky no longer completely identifies with his faith.
"The Big Bang happened, and all this star matter turned into stars, and stars turned into planets, and planets turned into life. We're all just borrowing this matter and energy for a little bit, while we're here, until it goes back into everything else, and that connects us all," Aronofsky said, after being asked about his beliefs in God.
"The messed up thing is how distracted we are and disconnected from that connection, and the result of it is what we're doing to this planet and to ourselves…What are we doing to ourselves? It's a complete disconnect. To me, that's where the spirituality is. Whatever you want to call that connection -- some people would use that term God. That, to me, is what I think is holy," he added.