There’s nothing quite so helpful as a fatwa and threats of a Christian boycott to create buzz in advance of a new movie.
“Noah,” scheduled for its U.S. release on March 28, has become such a target. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain have banned the movie because it depicts a prophet, which, as Danish cartoonists will attest, isn’t the peachiest of ideas in certain circles.
Even here in the land of religious tolerance, the National Religious Broadcasters threatened to boycott the film unless Paramount, the film’s distributor and co-financer with New Regency, issued a disclaimer that the movie isn’t a literal interpretation of the Genesis story. It is good to have fundamentalist literalists explain exactly what the Bible’s authors intended, especially since a literal interpretation would keep moviegoers away or put them to sleep.
To wit: In the literal tale, no one speaks until after (spoiler alert) a dove sent to find land returns with an olive twig in its beak, indicating the flood is over and the world is saved. In the movie version, people talk, which is awfully helpful in following the narrative.
Alas, under pressure, Paramount altered its advertising to say the movie was “inspired” by the Bible story and is not The Bible story.
Note the frequent use of the word “movie” in the preceding paragraphs. This is because “Noah” is ... a movie. It is not a sermon or a call to prayer. It cost $130 million to make and is intended to entertain, inspire and — bear with me, I know this is crazy — make money. It does not presume to encourage religious conversion, disrespect a prophet or evangelize a snake, though it does glorify virtue in the highest.
I recently viewed the film and can confidently report the following: If you liked “Braveheart,” “Gladiator,” “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Indiana Jones” or “Titanic,” you will like “Noah.” If you liked two or more of the above, you will love “Noah.” Your enjoyment increases exponentially with each movie checked above.