HUSAIN: Christians, Muslims and Hollywood differ on new Noah film

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“Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, is set to hit theaters in just a couple of weeks, and a plethora of articles comparing the movie to Biblical accounts have begun to spring up.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted Director Darren Aronofsky at the world premiere screening of the movie as saying “It’s a very, very different movie.”

Mr. Aronofsky told the crowd, adding, “Anything you’re expecting, you’re [expletive] wrong.”

The remarks suggest that Mr. Aronofsky intentionally avoided creating a movie that corresponds to the popular Biblical narrative of Noah. At the same time, the second Paramount Pictures trailer for the film says exactly the opposite “This film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of genesis.”

Called "Noah's Ark" and the Deluge, this painting is one of the richly illustrated manuscripts of the sixteenth century is the Zubdat-al Tawarikh in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul, dedicated to Sultan Murad III in 1583. (WikiMedia Commons)

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Called “Noah’s Ark” and the Deluge, this painting is one of the ... more >

Many would be surprised to note, however, that Noah occupies a special place in the religion of Islam, as one of the Quran’s five “Arch Prophets” (Arabic: “Ulul Azeem”) and is called by name Prophet Nuh. The Quran mentions Noah 58 times, and devotes its 71st Chapter to his story in “Surah Nuh.” While viewed as a Prophet of Islam, the Bible only gives Noah the title “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5). In Judaism, he is only referred to as “a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9).

Many details differ between the accounts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but the general premise remains the same: Noah was commanded by God to build an ark, load many animals onto it, and then a great flood occurred.

The original trailer for the upcoming film shows Mr. Aronofsky’s Noah astonished at God’s decision to bring the flood, and has him exclaiming “He’s going to destroy the Earth.”

 

The Quran, however, indicates that Prophet Nuh prayed “My Lord, do not leave upon the earth from among the disbelievers an inhabitant.” The account in Genesis states that God independently decided to do so. In Islam, it is taught that Prophet Nuh only made this prayer after coming to the firm belief that the world could not be saved, as they had decried their Prophet as insane or possessed. He attempted to preach for the entirety of his miraculously extended lifespan, spanning several centuries (a concept that also appears in Biblical accounts). It is unclear how the movie will address these aspects of the story of Noah.

An interesting similarity between Quranic accounts and that of the Hollywood trailers is imagery of water exploding from the ground. In the first trailer, the flood occurs within a short amount of time, with heavy rain and water bursting from the ground, hundreds of feet into the air. This scene is similar to verses in Islam’s Holy Book:

“Then We opened the gates of the heaven with rain pouring down, And caused the earth to burst with springs, and the waters met for a matter already predestined.” (Quran 54:11-12)

Contrary to the appearance of A-list actor Russell Crowe, the Muslim text “Hayat ul Quloob” describes Prophet Nuh accordingly: “He was of wheatish complexion, a thin face, elongated head, big eyes, thin legs but well fleshy thighs, big navel and with a long thick beard. He was of tall stature [and] heavy built…”

Mr. Aronofsky’s Noah is summarized in his IMDb.com profile as “a man suffering visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood.”

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