The cool thing about James Cameron’s “Titanic” (1997) was that because of the discovery of the actual RMS Titanic in 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard there was tons of new data and a physical structure to study. This helped the filmmakers re-envision the physics of the sinking ship as well as intertwine some actual photography of the ship woven into the film narrative itself. Stinkin’ cool is what we call that!
Darren The Black Swan Aronofsky’s ark will have no such thing. Despite the April 2010 “discovery” of Noah’s Ark and the later debunking of that find, the Ark is still persona non presente. They’ve even got it narrowed down to a specific region on a specific Mountain in Turkey. And still…bupkiss. And so, while Aronofsky will provide us an epic film, it won’t have the same Documentary style underpinnings of TITANIC nor should we expect the biblical authenticity of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”. No, this film will lean towards a sci-fi/fantasy narrative based (loosely?) on the Biblical mythos.
Here is what Aronofsky told IFC about Noah last summer:
“I don’t think [the tale of Noah is] a very religious story. I think it’s a great fable that’s part of so many different religions and spiritual practices. I just think it’s a great story that’s never been on film… I want to make a big [Roland Emmerich-style] event film, and I think ['Noah'] can be that.”
So, there’s that. But it still has all the makings of a great film. For starters, it’s got a reportedly $130M budget. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And then you look at the A-list cast helming this film, starting with the Master and Commander himself, Russel Crowe.
Release Date: March 28, 2014
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Screenwriter: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel, John Logan
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Saoirse Ronan, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins
Budget: $130 Million
Plot Summary: ”Noah” is a close adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark. In a world ravaged by human sin, Noah is given a divine mission: to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood.
If you haven’t seen the concept/pitch video from the French Comic that Aronofsky put out, take a look…
So we’ve got our Noah, Russell Crowe…
And rejoining Crowe after their awesome performances in “A Beautiful Mind” together, we’ve got Noah’s Wife, Jennifer Connelly…
This dude, Ray Winstone, will be playing a villain in some capacity…
And Hannibal Lecter, Sir Anthony Hopkins, has recently joined the cast as Methuselah (who is one of the oldest humans in the Bible over 900 years old)…
Mmm. When 900 years old you become, look as good you will not. Wrong, Yoda! The World’s Fastest Indian is looking dead sexy!
As they move into production, expect more stills to surface, but for now, Paramount and Aronofsky have released a couple of behind-the-scenes photos of set construction on the massive Ark.
And this one..
The 43-year-old Aronofsky has been quoted as saying this is a dream project of his since he was 13 years old. My friend Jeremy and I can relate. We’ve also dreamt of bringing this large scale project to life on the big screen. Are we worried that Aronofsky and his cool comics and his academy awardwinning cast and his $130M budget are going to steal our thunder?
Nah. We kewl. We kewl.
We’re just biding our time. Because honestly, to make a Noah film that’s not a religious picture is akin to making a Race car movie without cars. A romantic comedy without a love interest. An end times movie without Kirk Cameron. It just cannot be done. Nay, should not be done.
Meanwhile, if the Christian Lara Croft could get out to Mount Ararat and FIND US AN ARK…that would be very helpful to our cause.
Let’s make a movie!
A Beliefnet.com interview by Dena Ross with Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in “Passion of the Christ”. He talks about his new film and how his movie roles help him grow.
(EXCERPT) Jim Caviezel has had memorable roles in movies like “Pay it Forward,” “High Crimes,” and “Frequency,” but he is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”
In Caviezel’s new film, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”—based on the novel of the same name by French writer Freidoune Sahebjam—he plays a journalist who learns about a small Muslim community’s dark secret. Academy Award-nominated actress Shorhreh Agdashloo plays Zahara, the woman who tells the heart-breaking story of her niece Soraya.
A conservative Catholic, Caviezel spoke to Beliefnet’s EntertainmentEditor Dena Ross about why we need to be more like the Good Samaritan and his hopes for making people’s lives better through his work.
As a Christian, what was it like immersing yourself in Muslim culture for your role in the new movie? Did you learn anything new about the religion or the culture that you hadn’t known before?
Oh, it was interesting. There was a man when I first got there, he was a Sunni Muslim. He drove me around. He [brought] my luggage to my [hotel] room, and he says, “I cannot believe I’m driving the man who played Jesus!” So, right away, I thought we were in a good spot there.
But he had a very peaceful countenance to him. We had a situation where we had to go across the border, and the guards were giving us a hard time. And he had a great, calm countenance to himself, and got out of the car and basically let them have it. I was in real good hands there.
Read the full article at BELIEFNET.COM
by Jon Acuff
I had an easier time connecting with God in the movie, “Man on Fire” than I did in “The Passion of the Christ.” That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I mean the Mel Gibson movie made roughly 786 gazillion dollars and was loved by Christians the world over. Man on Fire is a bloody revenge film with very little God. How can I write that first sentence?
I think that the God element in Man on Fire was a strong undercurrent that caught me off guard. It surprised me and engaged me in an unexpected way. I enjoyed the Passion of the Christ. I thought it was good. But I went in expecting God and faith and Christianity. So when it appeared I was ready for it. And in communication, one of the ways to grab someone is to show instead of tell. Instead of saying, “this character is cool” in a movie, you show the audience tangible ways that exhibit how the character is cool. That way, the audience gets to write their own story instead of just digesting your story. Man on Fire showed me God’s love, the Passion of the Christ told me God’s love. But that still doesn’t really justify thinking Man on Fire is a better picture of Christ than the Passion of the Christ. So let me explain a little, but please know I am about to ruin the end of Man on Fire.
In the film, Denzel Washington plays the role of Creasy, an alcoholic black ops military man in Mexico City serving as a bodyguard for a little girl named Pita. Pita is a blonde sprite of a seven-year-old played by the ubiquitous Dakota Fanning. Throughout the first half of the film we watch as Creasy hits rock bottom, only to find a new reason to live in Pita. Along the way, we see him spend increasing amounts of time in the Bible.
But because this at the core a revenge film, Pita is kidnapped after a piano lesson. Creasy is shot multiple times and the doctors say that without a month of rest, he will die. While Creasy is trapped in bed, Pita is executed by the kidnappers. He is devastated, his world collapsing in scenes of Pita laughing and playing. He leaves the hospital and decides to track down the killers.
In a hinge scene the young mother of Pita asks Creasy what he is going to do. His response is simple, “What I do best, I’m going to kill em. Anyone that was involved, anyone that profited from it, anyone that opens their eyes at me.” This statement serves as the doorway to a veritable house of pain and suffering. The violence is shocking in both its graphicness and its creativity.
At this point, my initial idea that I saw the love of Christ in this movie seems impossible. We do not serve a God that would torture a man with a cigarette lighter or plant a plastic explosive inside another kidnapper. Our God is not cruel. I think that’s worthy of argument though, at least from an Old Testament point of view. Would the Egyptian mothers that woke to find their first born children dead in their beds agree that God can not be cruel? Would the residents of Sodom, with flesh ripped apart by sulfur falling from the sky agree that God is not violent? I’m not saying these things were not justified. I just think that maybe we make too light of the fury and might of God.
After cutting a swath of death through Mexico City, Creasy finds the pregnant wife and brother of the villain, simply referred to as “The Voice.” The Voice asks him on the phone, “How much do you want?” Creasy responds by saying “Your brother wants to speak to you, hold on” at which point he shoots off all the fingers of the brother’s hand with a shotgun. “I’m going to take your family apart piece by piece. You understand me? Piece by piece. I don’t want your money. You understand me? I want you!” It’s numbing really, the brother tied up to a pole with a bloody stump of a hand, the pregnant wife wailing. But that’s when grace first makes an appearance. The Voice calls back and says “I will give you a life for a life. I will give you her life for your life.”
The camera spins on a confused Creasy as he struggles with the idea that Pita is alive. Suddenly the violence, the rage, the wrath of Creasy sinks out of his face. In the final scene, Creasy, Pita’s mother and the kidnapper’s brother drive to an abandoned bridge in the middle of the Mexican countryside. With a bullet ridden body and a weariness that is almost three dimensional, Creasy walks up the bridge. When the kidnappers see him waiting there, they pull a hooded Pita out of the car. They remove her dirty blindfold and with eyes not accustomed to light, she squints toward the bridge. With the sound of a child witnessing an unlocked gate in hell, she screams “Creasy” and runs to the bridge. Creasy, unable to run from all the pain, waits. She jumps into his arms, and with hands dotted with blood and scars he cradles her. This is what follows:
Creasy: “Are you alright? They didn’t hurt you?”
Pita: Shakes her head no.
Creasy: Laughing and smiling in relief, “Hi.” More laughter. “Alright your mother is waiting for you; she’s right down at the end of the bridge. OK, you go home.”
Pita: “OK. Where are you going?”
Creasy: “I’m going home too.”
Pita runs to the arms of her mother. A red laser scope lands on Creasy’s heart, which he covers with a hand that is dotted in scars. He throws up his hands and walks slowly to the kidnappers. He stumbles to his knees as they drag him into a car. Pita cries watching Creasy surrender to certain death. Creasy closes his eyes in the car and dies.
I missed it the first ten times I saw the movie. Missed that I’m Pita. I’ve lived most of my life under the stairs in a dark, dirty cage. But unlike Pita, this is the place I deserve. For although she did not ask to be kidnapped or receive this experience as a consequence of her actions, I did. If this were the story of my life, justice would have already been served. The prisoner’s life is the life I deserve. But God is like Creasy. In Isaiah 30:18 it says “he rises to show you compassion.”
The new life that Creasy finds when he meets Pita is but a glimpse at how God delights in us. And it is this love, this adoration that drives him to rescue us. But is he violent? Is there anything he wouldn’t do to rescue me and rescue you? I don’t think so. To the violence question we need only look to verses like Numbers 24:8 in which the Israelites, God’s people, are said to “devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces.” That was describing work and battles that the Lord had blessed.
Is that any less graphic than anything that happens in “Man on Fire?” God’s love has no limits. If violence is what it would take to rescue me, I have little doubt that he would be violent. That he would remove an entire planet in a flood to save the righteous family of Noah. And even though he is blessed with the ability to open the core of the earth with his fury, it is love and ultimate surrender that shows us the true depth of his heart. In the movie, Creasy could have easily continued killing the kidnapper’s family. The brother could have been tortured, the pregnant wife and unborn child murdered. But it wasn’t about revenge, it was about rescue. And when Pita was discovered to be alive, he stopped everything. He surrendered and walked willingly into a certain death.
In his last moments, before the cross, the undeniable power of Christ is revealed one more time as he heals one of the Roman guard’s ears. And yet he denies it. He surrenders. That’s how I felt about the last scene in Man on Fire. Creasy had just blown off all the fingers of the brother. He had the pregnant wife and a shotgun and a mouth full of loud, angry words. But the second he knew Pita was alive, he surrendered.
I’ve written about it before because the scene really shook me. It made me realize, this is the Christ I serve. Powerful, fearful, able to heal the sick and blind, capable of walking on water itself. But willing to give it all up upon realizing I am found. Willing to pay the ransom with his own life. Willing to free me from a prison I created. And whether he’s crucified on a cross or forced to walk across a bridge in Mexico, he’s willing to do it all over again for me. And for you.
p.s. I liked Passion. I thought it was a well done movie. The most powerful scene to me was when Gibson showed the boy Jesus and the man Jesus stumble to the ground. My one criticism is that it felt really full. I like movies that leave me room to climb in and Passion felt bursting at the seams so it was hard for me to engage with it in some scenes.
(reprinted with permission)
(SEP 01, 2007) Troy Anderson of Charisma Magazine writes about some recent trends inside and outside Hollywood for Faith-based, family friendly films.
(EXCERPT) As a new generation picks up the mantle to help redeem Hollywood, [Ken] Wales says filmmakers should focus first on telling compelling, first-rate stories.
“I’m a real big fan of telling the great story,” says Wales, also a University of Southern California film professor. “The three most important parts of filmmaking are story, story and story, no matter how much technology improves.”
(FEB 7, 2007) Randee Dawn of the Hollywood Reporter writes about the growing effects that Faith-Based films are having on Hollywood as Studios begin to ramp up their new production slates to include more “Christian” films.
(EXCERPT) “Hollywood does not understand the people who live between New York and California,” says [casting director Reuben] Cannon, who was the first to describe [Tyler] Perry’s oeuvre as ‘gospel cinema’. Now that I live in the South, religion is probably the biggest activity here. The Bible Belt is not just a name. It is real. Hollywood just hasn’t catered to the Christian faith-based market because it hasn’t been necessary.”
READ the Full Article by Randee Dawn on www.BackStage.com:
ProdCo: Icon Productions & Newmarket Films
Director: Mel Gibson
Title: The Passion of the Christ
(JAN 25, 2004) Read full article Passion Changes Everything by Ralph Winter (Producer, X-Men) & Mark Joseph on www.NationalReview.com.
(EXCERPT) We are hearing anecdotal evidence from around the country that a massive audience is developing for The Passion of the Christ consisting of, in some cases, traditionalist Christians who have not been to a theater in decades.
Why? Because for the first time in history and in a manner and scale only hinted at by films like The Omega Code and Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie, a film has finally emerged that has five key ingredients: Star power, mainstream credibility, controversy, wide simultaneous release and deep resonance with traditionalist Christians.