Russell Crowe’s newest movie will not be out for several more weeks, but it is already drawing the ire of censors from several countries. The former Academy Award winner’s new movie Noah will be banned from several countries for contradicting the teachings of Islam. Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have all declined to release the film so far, and other nations are expected to follow.
Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky, has been drawing a lot of attention as more screenings of the film have been done. Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates decided to block the relase of Noah after Al-Azhar, the influential Muslim learning institution based in Cairo, Egypt, ruled that a depicting Noah on screen was prohibited. This is not the first time a film has been widely banned in several countries by Muslim institutions, but the large budget and Academy Award winning lead actor have given Noah a lot of attention. Borat, the 2006 film starring Sacha Baron Cohen, was widely censored from theaters in the Arab world.
Based on the story of Noah’s Ark, Noah diverges greatly from the much more familiar biblical version of the story, supposedly veering towards an action epic with supernatural elements. This has not only upset those in the Muslim world, but many in Christian and Jewish communities as well. The movie was test screened in front of Christian and Jewish audiences, several of whom were upset with the supposed inaccuracies of the story. The uproar has become loud enough that Paramount, the studio behind the film, asked Aronosfky to make changes to the film prior to release. The director has reportedly refused but there has been no official word on whether or not changes have or will be made before the film is released on March 28th. Aronofsky, known for his dedication to his projects, also had disagreements with his studio while trying to release the 2006 movie The Fountain, which resulted in a massive budget cut and several delays. The film only ended up making back approximately half of its budget in revenue.
While there will be no religious censoring of the film domestically, the entire project shows that religious complaints from potential moviegoers can still affect the final outcome of a film. Controversy can be both a boon and a curse for a director, drawing valuable attention and free marketing to a movie that many may consider seeing to see what the big deal is about. But it can also cause the director’s final vision to be taken out of his hands.
There are many reasons to be excited about the film if the controversy can be put aside. Aronofsky’s last film, Black Swan, was well received and was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture in 2010. Crowe is joined by several other well-regarded names in Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins. There is little doubt over the fact that the movie will end up banned in several more countries, but whether this is going to affect the success of the Academy Award winning actor’s latest project remains to be seen.
By Brian Moore