‘Noah’ screenwriter defends white casting, says race doesn’t matter in a ‘mythical story’

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Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” has received a wave of backlash over its lack of diversity, and now the film’s screenwriter says it’s because the all-white cast serves as “stand-ins for all people.”

In an interview with The High Calling, “Noah” screenwriter Ari Handel says race should be a non-issue in a “mythical story.”

“From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race,” he said. “What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people.”

“Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise,” Mr. Handel continued. “You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, ‘Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.’ Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, ‘Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?’ That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.”

Last week, the Rev. Wil Gafney criticized the film’s lack of racial diversity.

“In this version of Noah, black people do not exist,” the Episcopal priest told Religion News Service.

“I hoped that at least there would be some beige people in the movie,” she said. “But there was no one visibly of color.”

Efrem Smith, president of Los Angeles-based World Impact, a Christian nonprofit, agreed that “Noah” is part of a pattern.

“When it come to films on Bible stories and biblical figures, we are going back to the days of Charlton Heston,” he told RNS.

He argued that the Bible “is the most multicultural piece of literature that most people will ever read. So a film about the Bible should reflect that diversity,” RNS reported.

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