Thursday, April 03, 2014

It was a truly sad day for this site when Episcopal News Service shut down Lil Slice O’ Goofy, its letters to the editor section.  Some of my greatest posts were inspired there.  So thank God for Religion Dispatches which does its best to pick up the slack.  Who says that the new movie Noah isn’t Biblical, wonders Annette Yoshiko Reed?

While Baden defends the inclusion of Watchers he does bemoan that “the same cannot be said for the antagonistic narrative the film creates between Noah and the movie’s villain, Tubal-Cain.” We might, however, note that Rabbinic Jewish and Syriac Christian interpreters, for instance, commonly read Genesis’ references to the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” as alluding to an antediluvian conflict between the pious line of Seth and the corrupted line of Cain. More importantly, we might question what is lost when we judge a work based on the origins of elements therein. (If we expected any biblically-related work to go no further than what is said in the Bible, for instance, we would be forced to abandon most of Western religious art.)

All of which is simply to point out that attention to parallels with biblical and ancient Jewish and Christian sources reveal the degree to which “Noah” participates in a long tradition of storytelling about the Flood. As in the Book of the Watchers and Jubilees, so too in Aronofsky’s Noah: new and old elements are interwoven to create stories that speak to their own times. Specifically, Aronofsky’s Noah mobilizes the apocalyptic rhetoric of contemporary environmentalism, though the controversy surrounding the film’s faithfulness to the bible is no less a part of that same tradition. And it suggests that a more pressing issue, for much of the film’s audience, concerns the limits of creativity surrounding the Bible—and who has the right to decide just how “biblical” even the “least biblical, biblical film” should be.

In other movie news, fans will, in George Lucas’ upcoming Oliver Twist, see 19th-century London police equipped with light sabers.  Pixar’s next project, an animated version of Proust’s Rememberance of Things Past in which all the characters will be computer-generated hamsters, is described as, “entirely in the spirit of the original.”  And what Stephen Spielberg calls the greatest conceivable cinematic achievement of his life, West, Allis, Wisconsin Alexanderplatz, is, he says, “as Fassbinderian as I could possibly make it.”

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