Biblical adaptations cause controversy


By Marcelina Kiszkiel

Staff Writer

The recently released blockbuster “Noah” has caused some controversy among religious viewers for its deviation from scripture and its portrayal of Noah as a man of the environment rather than a true follower of God. The director, Darren Aronofsky, has admitted that “Noah” can hardly be considered a biblical film.

Reactions from Christian and Jewish viewers during test screenings of the film resulted in Paramount  Pictures forcing Aronofsky to change some parts of the final cut before it hit theaters. Viewers were upset with the dark portrayal of Noah, as he was featured getting drunk on screen and considered taking drastic measures to wipe out mankind.

“Noah” is not the first film based on the Bible to have caused controversy. “The Last Temptation Of Christ” featured a sex scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. “The Passion of the Christ” was considered anti-semitic for implying that Jewish leaders were at fault for the death of Jesus.

As a result of causing controversy, various biblical films have been banned in many countries. “The Last Temptation of Christ” has been banned in Singapore, South Africa and the Philippines while “Noah” has been banned in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Muslim nations for depictions of a prophet, which violates Islamic law.

However, not everyone believes these films are problematic. Math teacher and atheist Mike Riedy does not mind religious movies at all.

“I really don’t care because I guess the question is, what’s the purpose of the movie?” Riedy said. “If the movie is being made to entertain, that’s fine. If it’s made to preach, I still don’t care because I have the choice to not go see the movie.”

Even some Christian viewers have been supporting “Noah”. Christianity Today featured a seven-page review on the film which encouraged others to go see it, saying that the movie was a solid adaptation and “visually and imaginatively compelling.”

Sophomore and Christian Olivia Karnes is fine with religious movies, as long as they do not stray from the original story too much.

“They try to take interpretation on something [biblical stories] that really isn’t meant to be interpreted.” Karnes said.

World Religions teacher John Camardella believes that the intentions of the viewers indicate how these films affect them, rather than the other way around.

“The fact that you could expose people to the story of Noah [is] great, but then you have to ask, what version?” Camardella said. “Because then if people believe that movie when looking for truth and they believe something that is incorrect or a bad portrayal, then they go back to the story and feel like they’ve been lied to.”

Junior Andrew Radford is also religious and believes that the majority of  religious movies are accurate for the most part.

“If you go the lengths to make a movie about any religious book you’re generally going for a more, straight out of whatever the book it was [adapted],” Radford said. “So I think they’re more biblical than Hollywood based, but I think some of them are more successful than others.”

Despite some of the negative feedback, “Noah” did very well in ticket sales. The movie has earned itself a top slot in the box office, as well as $45 million. Biblical films will continue to be a trend in the upcoming future. Religious films to expect in the near future include Pontius Pilate, Exodus, Gods and Kings, and Mary Mother of Christ.

Karnes hopes that religious movies in the future will stay true to the writing they are from.

“I would just like to see them try to stick to the literal words that are written in the Bible or whatever they take it from,” Karnes said. “I would just like to see them stick to the truth and also try to really explain things well.”

According to, part of a film director’s job is interpreting the script and making it into a film, which means Aronofsky and other directors do have the right to take their own creative spin on biblical stories and show them to the public.

Camardella understands why these interpretations might upset people, but enjoys the fact that people in America have the right to make these films as well as watch them.

“That’s something else about living in a free society…,” Camardella said. “You could turn this into a bureaucracy like Iran, Saudi Arabia, or China and lock down and have government limits on speech.”