Tag Archives: Hollywood

A Flood of Opinions

“From #hotjesus to Russell Crowe in Noah, Hollywood mines scriptures for scripts” reads the headline of an article on theStar.com. Many have talked about how 2014 is the year for biblical movies. From The Son of God all the way to Exodus premiering in December, the year is packed full of the Bible.

Many people would come to believe that, in general, Christians would enjoy this and love how biblical stories and themes are becoming major films with big names, but that may not be the case. As we have talked much about in class, and especially during our study of The Color of Christ, there are multiple depictions of religions and their stories. As one can see, with differing depictions come differing opinions – some modest and some not so much. This weekend the new movie Noah released and as one can imagine, the opinions of this movie span the spectrum.

In a Fox News video, Jonathan Morris comments on how the Noah Movie doesn’t mention the word “God” at all and instead uses the word “creator.” This has been a fairly large debate on Fox News recently. In a separate interview Director Darren Aronofsky talks about how this was a different time entirely in history where it is a “magical and fantastical world” which would produce different choices in many areas including language.

After the beginning of the backlash, some Christians began bringing up the other side saying that it’s a Hollywood adaption and that people should not be so uptight about it. In an article on Christian Post entitled “Noah Movie: Why Christians Should Stop Complaining About Biblical Movies and Watch Them,” Marty Duren writes about how the movie was never intended to be direct adaption of the story in the Bible. He says that instead of fighting it, Christians should be glad the that “cultural bridges” are being built for the gospel. He writes, “Why destroy the bridge rather than walking over it? The gospel travels more easily over a bridge than over a chasm.”

While we are in the midst of controversy and people getting angry, why not throw in some satire, right? From the Christian Post Phil Cooke writes, “The Noah Movie Opened This Weekend. Christians: Run For the Hills.” This article includes quotes such as, “After Friday’s opening, be ready for millions of Christians to turn away from the faith,” and, “This movie will be the most catastrophic event since the crucifixion.” Again, obviously satire, but one individuals commented “Amen!” There is also a twitter account @FakeJDGreear which pokes fun at issues like this.

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Should a Christian, Jew, or Muslim look at this film and be appalled by its inaccuracy to the text? Should they be excited about the text being mentioned at all and take every ounce as a step towards others being enlightened? Or should they look at this film as a film and nothing else? Who knows?! All one can do is understand that the choice made by people will be determined by many different facets – religious background, views of his or her family, geographic location, etc.

People think differently. People see differently. People choose differently. And as we have seen in our studies of American Religion, this is not something new.

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The Battle of Faith-Based Films

From left to right: Son of God, Heaven Is for Real, and Noah

From left to right: Son of God, Heaven Is for Real, and Noah

Hollywood is Hell on Earth. This is what some Christians, at least in the South, would have you believe. Many of these people view Hollywood as a place filled with celebrities whose views have long strayed from those of mainstream Americans. A place used as a scapegoat for the “downfall of America.” A place where Christianity is almost nonexistent. A place not to be looked up to in any way. Oh yeah, and that place where all your favorite movies originate.

For years, Christians have complained about the lack of Bible-related films coming out of Hollywood. That is not the case this year. In 2014, there will be four major, religion-themed movies coming to a theater near you: Son of God, Noah, Heaven Is for Real, and Exodus. One would think Christians might be satisfied with so many of these films being released soon, but that is not exactly the case. Seemingly every time a Bible-related film hits theaters, there are numerous religious organizations lining up to criticize the storyline or accuracy of the movie. Paramount, the studio releasing Noah, recently announced that the following clarification would be included with the film:

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.

I mean, it’s not like Hollywood has a track record of embellishing the narrative of a “based on true events” movie.  Dr. Jerry Johnson, President of the NRB, summarizes the Christian viewpoint in his article about Noah as, “If the world made it, we are against it, and can provide the list to tell you why.” Instead of continually trying to pick a fight with Hollywood, Christians ought to embrace the fact that the film industry is spending millions of dollars to essentially tell the story of the Jesus and the Bible.

In a similar article, Phil Cooke makes the case for why Christians should support the movie Noah, and other comparable movies. For starters, the story of Noah written in the Bible is fairly short. As with many parts of the Bible, this story leaves many blanks unfilled and leaves the imagination with room to wander. This means that in order to create a feature film, some creative freedom must be left to the writers and producers. This does not discount the entire story as worthless, though. Instead, this introduces a new viewpoint, perhaps never considered by the person watching. Furthermore, I know it may be hard for some to fathom, but there are a seemingly infinite number of interpretations of the Bible. This could be embraced as a way to promote an open dialogue about Christ and the many forms that He takes in different cultures.

These movies are not intended to replace the Bible. Instead of complaining about trivial details, Christians should look to use these movies as a facilitator for nonbelievers. The art of filmmaking has the power to reach an audience untouched by the Christian community. These movies could lead to someone picking up a Bible for the first time in their lives. And, in the end, is that not what all Christians want?

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